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Opening conference

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Activités participatives
9:00, Monday 14 Jun 2021 EDT (1 hour 30 minutes)
  Virtual session
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The opening conference will be held in a panel format. Two speakers will make a presentation and then participate in a discussion. The opening conference will be moderated by Marie-Christine Therrien.

The first lecture will focus on existential threats, resiliencies and the need to prepare for the future and will be given by Jon Coaffee. The second lecture will focus on the use of technology as a catalyst for strengthening collaboration in disaster risk reduction and will be given by Terrence Fernando.

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Use of Technology as a Catalyst for Strengthening Stakeholder Collaboration in Disaster Risk Reduction,Prof. Terrence Fernando

There is significant evidence of the growth of natural disasters on a global level. TheAsia-Pacific region continues to be the world’s most disaster prone region; it has many low-/middle-income countries (LMICs), accounting for 47% of the world’s 344 disasters in 2015 with reported economic damage in the region of US$ 5.1 Billion and 16,046 fatalities. In this context, the most disaster-prone sub- region is South Asia, recording 52 disasters and 14,647 deaths which represent 64% of the global fatalities in 2015. Typical natural disasters in this region are floods, earthquakes, landslides and droughts which have the potential to wipe away hard earned development gains achieved over many years as a result of a single catastrophic disaster. Therefore, building resilience to natural disasters within low-/middle-income countries (LMICs) should be considered as an important factor in sustainable development.

Scientific research has shown that disaster risks do not only exist because of the presence of a physical hazard; they are compounded by the presence of vulnerability. Therefore, there is an urgent need to shift our focus from pure emergency response and recovery towards a sustainable disaster mitigation frameworkthat focuses on building resilience within a disaster prone area, involving government agencies and the local community, to reduce the impact of a hazard.Within this context, the focus of disaster management needs to change from hazard to vulnerability reduction; from reactive to proactive; from single agency to partnerships; from response management to risk management. However, these changes require new partnership models, an emphasis on the early stages of the disaster management cycle (preparedness, response at early critical stages) and novel technological solutions that can promote collaborative risk assessment involving a range of stakeholders to address climate change and equitable resilience.

This presentation will present the outcome of the GCRF funded MOBILISE project ( and the TRANSCEND project ( which have been conducting research to influence such a change in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia. This talk will cover the experiences gained through these two projects with a special focus on :

  • Barriers for implementing collaborative risk governance and community engagement
  • The characteristic of a digital platform that emerged from this research for strengthening collaborative risk governance through visual narratives and evidence-based discussions.

Existential threats, resilience and the imperative to futureproof,Jon Coaffee

Catastrophic events such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Tohoku ‘Triple Disaster’ of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown that hit the eastern seaboard of Japan in 2012, and the ongoing global pandemic, can be viewed as surprise low probability – high impact events that have shone a light on existing, and often inadequate, risk and emergency management practices for responding to disasters. Whilst often these conventional ‘resilience’ approaches have focused on planning and preparing for disruptions and enhanced our ability to ‘bounce back’, less attention has been given to anticipating future challenges and enhancing our capacity to adapt to emerging threats, ‘bounce forwards’, and govern uncertainty.

Drawing on a range of empirical studies, and informed by a critical reading of resilience as a response to existential or material vulnerability, insecurity and, ultimately, change, this talk will interrogate what it means to become futureproof. This analysis will move beyond purely technical interventions, with resilience viewed as a process that mediates a set of social and political relationships, grounded in an ethic of care for the most vulnerable. The central argument posited is that resilience has the potential to stimulate change in the way we collectively think about future global challenges and conditions of persistent uncertainty, but will require a number of core principles to be enacted in an integrated and holistic fashion if we are to effectively futureproof ourselvesin ways that are effective, fair, and equitable.

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