The Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR) / Dealing with Disasters (DWD) Conference 2017 (Durham University, 19 – 22 September 2017)

The IHRR at Durham University celebrated its 10th anniversary this year by hosting a joint international conference with the Dealing with Disasters (DwD) Conference, Disaster and Development Network (DDN) based in Northumbria University. The conference covered a range of themes within international disaster risk reduction and invited a number of eminent keynote speakers including:

  • Margareta Whalström – President, Swedish Red Cross, UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction 2008-2015.
  • Stuart Corbridge – VC Durham University.
  • Ciro Ugate – Director, Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief, Pan American Health Organisation.
  • Eelco Dykstra – 11th Brunel International Lecturer 2016-2018, Institution of Civil Engineers.
  • Dr Amod Dixit – Executive Director, National Society for Earthquake Technology, Nepal.

We hosted a session on the Natural Hazards Partnership at the recent IHRR/DWD conference 2017 in Durham University. Our session covered:

Helen Balmforth presenting an overview of the Natural Hazards Partnerhsip.

The conference itself was largely internationally-focused, which wasn’t directly relevant to our current work. However, it did provide a useful global context to situate ourselves in.

In particular, the conference highlighted comparisons between disaster risk reduction in developed and developing countries. Many of the features and challenges remained the same (data management, working towards multi-hazard assessment, the importance of impact and risk modelling). However, in developing countries, national resources and the inherent challenges of local and national geography often restrict the ability of the State to act. In these cases, local communities are being given much more ownership over the resilience agenda because outside aid often arrives too late.

In comparison, in developed countries, residents rely on mature emergency services and wider resilience networks. These have better resources and are supported by better infrastructure. Instead, the wealth of disaster risk reduction information available presents different challenges to developed countries such as the UK. These include:

  • How to make best use of current services / tools / processes.
  • How to direct people to the most appropriate services available.
  • How to interact with academia and properly implement cutting-edge science.
  • How to present risk information clearly to different audiences.
  • How to understand the general public’s perception of impact and risk arising from hazards and how they consequently react to warnings.