Risk expert takes part in international forum

Dr Richard Teeuw and Portsmouth graduate Sarah Brown at the Understanding Risk forum.

Dr Richard Teeuw and Portsmouth graduate Sarah Brown at the Understanding Risk forum.

The potentially devastating effects of climate change and increasing global population were among subjects discussed at an international forum attended by a Portsmouth risk expert.

Dr Richard Teeuw – coordinator of the University of Portsmouth’s MSc in Crisis and Disaster Management course – was among delegates attending the Understanding Risk forum in Venice earlier this month.

The event saw almost 700 international delegates, including academic experts, discussing aspects of risk in the modern world.

Dr Teeuw, an expert in disaster risk reduction, said: “This forum provided an opportunity to discuss many aspects of risk that the world currently faces. At the top of the list were concerns about the likely impacts of climate change and increasing global population, particularly in urban areas and coastal settings.

“In the sessions on vulnerable populations, the statistics on gender inequality in disasters were profound. For instance, Bangladesh has made great improvements in reducing the impacts of cyclone surges over the past 40 years – but even though the numbers killed have been greatly reduced, from hundreds of thousands to hundreds, 15 out of every 16 fatalities are women.

“Clearly more research is needed to reduce the risks facing women during emergencies, particularly in low-income countries.”

Sponsored by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (managed by the World Bank), the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and companies in the insurance sector, the forum focused on the identification, assessment and communication of risk.

“The University of Portsmouth has a strong research, consultancy and teaching interest in the uses of open data, particularly free satellite imagery, so it was interesting to see the many sessions on that topic,” said Dr Teeuw.

“There was a related session from the non-governmental organisation sector, focusing on how volunteer ‘digital humanitarians’ assisted with the Nepal earthquake, rapidly providing damage maps for search and rescue teams – coincidentally something that we recently practised here at Portsmouth, with an international disaster simulation exercise.”

Portsmouth alumnus Sarah Brown – a post-doctoral graduate from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences now working as a researcher in volcanic risk reduction at the University of Bristol – was also among the experts at the forum.

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