Reducing risk from natural hazards
27 November 2012
The Department for Business Innovation & Skills today published a new Foresight report that highlights the importance of science in reducing the effects of floods, droughts, earthquakes and other natural hazards.
Reducing Risks of Future Disasters: Priorities for Decision Makers sets out how the threat of future disasters resulting from natural hazards can be stabilised, if decision makers make better use of technological developments and existing risk assessment methods. This will save lives, livelihoods and resources in developing countries.
Professor Duncan Wingham, Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Chair of the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences said, "The UK research councils welcome this report and look forward to working with the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences to explore how we can help deliver its recommendations.
"As a first step NERC is funding a Hazard & Risk Science Coordinator, Professor John Rees, with a view to expanding this role across Research Councils UK. He will work with UK and international stakeholders to ensure science and engineering contributes to key information requirements such as forecasting, risk assessments and best practices."
Professor John Rees is currently NERC's Theme Leader for Natural Hazards research.
More information can be found in the BIS press release and Foresight report Reducing Risks of Future Disasters: Priorities for Decision Makers.
New research to change the way natural hazards are assessed
NERC today also announces a £6·8m research programme on Probability, Uncertainty & Risk in the Environment (PURE) that aims to transform the way that the risks and uncertainties of a range of natural hazards are dealt with.
PURE will not only help the UK government to prepare for natural hazards and disaster situations, but will also help the insurance industries to meet the requirements and risk management standards of a new EU directive known as Solvency II.
Assessing the risks associated with natural hazards is fraught with uncertainty. PURE will act as a central hub through which expert knowledge will be shared, and make the process of risk assessment clearer and more consistent.
In recognition of the need for collaborative working, private-sector industries and organisations with an interest in risks and hazards have provided £2·8m of the total (£6·8m) programme funding.
PURE will be delivered by two research consortia led by the University of Bristol and University College London (UCL). They will build on the research already being funded within the NERC natural hazards theme and will involve a large number of research groups, government and industry partners.
NERC Chief Executive, Professor Duncan Wingham said, "A key feature of the consortia is their inter-disciplinary nature. They bring together experts in many different areas of environmental science, engineering, statisticians and other specialists in risk and uncertainty. This concentration of multidisciplinary expertise in one programme is unique globally, and will consolidate the reputation of the UK as a world-leader in this area."
UCL consortium leader, Dr Richard Chandler said, "Natural hazards scientists must acknowledge the uncertainty in the information they provide, and they need to communicate this uncertainty effectively. This will enable those who use their science, such as industry and others to develop a better appreciation of what science can and cannot deliver, and how best to use it."
University of Bristol consortium leader, Professor Thorsten Wagener said, "Natural hazards risk managers have the potential to significantly reduce social impacts and protect economic assets if they have access to better information, including better uncertainty estimates. Our focus will be to improve this information-base."
NERC Press Office
Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1EU
Tel: 01793 411561
Mob: 07917 557215
1. Research organisations involved in PURE - UCL (University College London), British Geological Survey, University of Edinburgh, Durham University, Birkbeck College, University of Reading, University of Oxford, Imperial College London, University of Bristol, University of Exeter, Lancaster University.
2. Industrial partners involved in PURE - Narec Capital Ltd, Hiscox Ltd, Aon Benfield, Victoria University of Wellington, Met Office, EuroTempest Ltd, Arup Group, Environment Agency, Lighthill Risk Network, Delft University of Technology, Catlin Group Ltd, GFZ Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, Willis Limited, Penn State, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, HR Wallingford, RMS Limited, Swedish Meteorological & Hydrological Institute, JBA consulting, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Thames Water Utilities Limited.
Briefing note: 11/12
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