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Stories of impacts and innovations in Small Island Developing States

February 14, 2020 3:38 am Published by Leave a comment


Stories of impacts and innovations in Small Island Developing States

Small island developing states (SIDS) are the most exposed to disasters and the impacts of a changing climate. Innovating to address these issues is therefore a necessity for their survival. Over the past 10 years, countries and territories have made strategic advancements combining cutting edge technology and innovative financing strategies with human centric solutions.

This full-day Focus Day event will showcase critical innovations spearheaded by SIDS impacting how they build resilience, culminating in an interactive game experience that has been used to share concepts of disaster risk financing across the Caribbean.

1. Comprehensive DRM programs

Disasters can create opportunities for risk informed development. For example, the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 in Sint Maarten, as well as hurricane Matthew in Haiti in 2016 created inconceivable challenges, from ensuring continuity of basic government or utility services to massive debris collection and management or resumption of tourism services crucial to local economies, creating an opportunity for a comprehensive program to address disaster risks, while also bringing new opportunities for growth. Similarly, hurricanes Ivan and Tomas led to the development of disaster vulnerability reduction projects throughout the Caribbean. In this session, we will showcase how DRM programs evolve in the aftermath of disasters.

2. Housing resilience
A home can be a family’s biggest asset and a source of generational wealth; so, with one disaster most of a family’s wealth can be wiped away. The destruction of homes also has major social impacts and can negatively affect childhood learning and development. Yet, the housing sector remains highly vulnerable to disasters. In 2017, Hurricane Maria caused major damage to more than 70% of the housing stock in Dominica, with damages totaling US$354 million which represents 66% of the 2016 GDP. In this session, we will showcase steps SIDS are undertaking to address these vulnerabilities through innovative housing resilience initiatives including home repair programs, affordable housing projects, concessional climate financing at the household level, and policy development.

3. Coastal Resilience
Coastal Resilience. In most small coastal states, when a disaster strikes, a large part of the population, infrastructure and businesses, generally concentrated in coastal areas, are directly or indirectly affected, therefore jeopardizing their sustainable development. Climate change and sea level rise, in combination with socio-economic growth, are likely to exacerbate this situation. Innovative methodologies and solutions are needed to tackle these unprecedented challenges. In this session, we will show how innovative and participatory approaches to risk modelling and coastal management can help enhancing climate and disaster resilience in remote small island states showcasing examples from the Pacific and the Caribbean regions. State-of-the-art methodologies, models and data combined with lessons learned by local practitioners will shed light on possibilities to adaptation for present and future challenges. New findings on the impact of sea level rise on coastal flooding and erosion across the Caribbean will also be presented.

4. Resilient Transport
Transportation networks are a critical infrastructure for each country as they enable access and connectivity for economic activity; for access to services (for example, commerce, tourism, education, and health); and for emergency situations (for example, evacuation). Natural hazards can have a deleterious effect on transport infrastructure, particularly on road networks and airports. In this session, we will showcase how the World Bank is promoting the Resilient Transport agenda in the SIDS by presenting some of the work done over the past few years such as the use of drones for landslide monitoring, the lifecycle approach for asset maintenance, LiDAR surveys for improved highway designs, among other approaches to support building resilience in transportation networks.

5. Understanding infrastructure investment needs – The case of Haiti
Haiti is one of the most exposed country to natural disaster and lately the economic and political situation exacerbated the vulnerability of middle and lower class. Targeting investment in most vulnerable area is a top priority in a country where the needs are widespread. Currently, Haiti has an imbalance between vulnerable population and existing shelter capacity. Geo-spatial data and risk information have been used to improve the density of shelter and their geographic distribution. In this session we will present how using a “human approach” combined with an optimization problem automated algorithm, Haiti is laying the foundation for (risk-)informed decision making. Interactive game experience:Caribbean disaster risk financing. Hurricane Hurry is an interactive game experience that simulates natural disaster financial decision-making in complex environments such as the Caribbean – for example, after a hurricane hits, when needs are great, resources are limited, and the pressure is on to act quickly. The World Bank has used this game in workshops with government officials across the Caribbean to convey key disaster risk financing (DRF) concepts and instruments in a provocative, fun and memorable way. This session will help participants become more familiar with the importance of developing DRF strategies; experience the choices and dilemmas that stakeholders feel when making decisions; and learn about non-traditional approaches to communicating complex information.

Interactive game experience:
Caribbean disaster risk financing

Hurricane Hurry is an interactive game experience that simulates natural disaster financial decision-making in complex environments such as the Caribbean – for example, after a hurricane hits, when needs are great, resources are limited, and the pressure is on to act quickly. The World Bank has used this game in workshops with government officials across the Caribbean to convey key disaster risk financing (DRF) concepts and instruments in a provocative, fun and memorable way. This session will help participants become more familiar with the importance of developing DRF strategies; experience the choices and dilemmas that stakeholders feel when making decisions; and learn about non-traditional approaches to communicating complex information.

Organizer: World Bank

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High-stakes decision-making made real – through Chernobyl

February 14, 2020 3:33 am Published by Leave a comment


High-stakes decision-making made real – through Chernobyl

Interactive learning event

use · stakeholder-collaboration

Our interactive and fast-paced circa 4-hour “hackathon event” truly engages people as participants in a learning event! Our proposal is to deliberately use a man-made disaster as a learning-focused case study. Learnings from the hackathon can be applied to dealing with natural disasters as well as man-made ones.

We will use the Chernobyl nuclear accident as our case to explore the dangers of information silos, how to hold crucial decisions, how to manage challenging situations and “elephants in the room” to avoid disastrous situations from occurring, and how to manage a crisis when a catastrophic event occurs. We put teams into a series of challenging situations, starting with the original design of Soviet nuclear reactors in the 1950’s, through to the construction of the nuclear power plant, and events, decisions and circumstances that led to the catastrophic accident occurring at the plant on 26th April 1986. Attendees will be provided with electronic versions of papers and material about the Chernobyl disaster that we have written, and obtained from expert sources.

Organizer: Satarla

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International Charter of Major Disasters users training

February 14, 2020 3:29 am Published by Leave a comment


International Charter of Major Disasters: Users training

identify · earth observations

The Charter is a worldwide collaboration among space agencies (currently 17) to make satellite data available for the benefit of disaster management authorities during the response phase of an emergency see (https://disasterscharter.org). The Charter is unique in being able to mobilize space agencies around the world and benefit from their expertise and satellites through a single access point that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at no cost to the user.

Successfully operating since November 2000, the Charter has brought space assets into action for many natural and technological disasters including floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, ice jams, and oil spills. Since its inception, the Charter has been activated in response to over 600 major disasters in more than 125 countries, including the 2004 Asian tsunami, the 2008 cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2013 super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the 2017 hurricane Irma and Maria in the Caribbean and US, the 2018 earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia and the 2019 large flood in Mozambique and currently the wildfire in Australia.

The Charter can be activated by a predefined list of appointed users, known as‘Authorized Users’(AUs). AUs are able to request Charter support for emergencies in their own country, or in a country with which they cooperate for disaster relief. With the status of AU a user organization is granted the permanent privilege to submit direct requests to the International Charter so as to get satellite observations for emergency response in the specific context of a major disaster.

A registration process is available for national authorities to express interest in becoming Authorized Users of the Charter. In addition, procedures to activate the Charter in case of major disaster will be explained and tested with the new users. The training will be focused on how to activate the Charter and what a national authority could expect to receive from the Charter

Organizer: European Space Agency

Partner Organizations: European Space Agency, ESACentre national d’études spatiales, France, CNESCanadian Space Agency, CSAUS National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAAComisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, Argentina, CONAEIndian Space Research Organization, ISROJapan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXAUnited States Geological Survey, USGSUK Space Agency, UKSA and Disaster Monitoring Constellation International Imaging Ltd., DMCiiChina National Space Administration, CNSAGerman Aerospace Center, DLRKorea Aerospace Research Institute, KARIInstituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Brazil, INPEEuropean Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, EUMETSATState Space Corporation, ROSCOSMOSBolivarian Agency for Space Activities, ABAEUnited Arabs Emirates Space Agency, UAESA and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center, MBRSC

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Landslide susceptibility and hazard: Examples from the global, regional and local scale

February 14, 2020 3:25 am Published by Leave a comment


Landslide susceptibility and hazard: Examples from the global, regional and local scale


Landslide susceptibility describes the inherent properties of terrain which might make it more or less susceptible to failure e.g. geology, slope angle, elevation etc. For a landslide to initiate from a susceptible area of terrain a landslide trigger is required. This can typically be rainfall, but could also be ground shaking from an earthquake or related to human activity. If a landslide is triggered then it is referred to as a landslide hazard and will have landslide hazard metrics related to size, velocity and frequency of occurrence.
An area can be of high landslide susceptibility but low landslide hazard if there is not the potential for a trigger of sufficient magnitude. Similarly, an area can be of low landslide susceptibility but high landslide hazard if there is the potential for a sufficiently large trigger.

This Focus Day event further explores the concepts of landslide susceptibility and hazard at a range of scales, incorporating insights from the NASA Global Landslide Susceptibility Map and the new GFDRR-commissioned Global Landslide Hazard Map by Arup. These global examples are supported by recent high-profile landslide case studies from Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Palu, Indonesia, as well as interactive group activities for participants during the session.

Organizer: Arup

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Mapping with low-cost centimeter precise surveys: Drones and open source software

February 14, 2020 3:09 am Published by Leave a comment


Mapping with low-cost centimeter precise surveys: Drones and open source software

identify · data · emerging technologies · risk assessment

The Learning Objective of this session is “understand how low-cost hardware and open-source software can be used to establish a high quality geospatial dataset as a baseline for understanding risk in urban environments”. OpenDroneMap is a free (libre) and open source photogrammetry toolkit targeted at low flying aircraft imagery processing.

For the first half of the workshop, we will go over drone mapping basics: hardware, software, and best practices. We will also try to organize a flight somewhere close by, weather and legal hoops permitting. Depending on weather conditions and group size, we will split the group into two parts, one that will work on experiencing flight planning, the other will focus on collection of Ground Control Points using a novel low-cost uBlox survey setup. The second half of the workshop focuses on software processing of images from the drone in order to make the images usable as geospatial datasets. We will demonstrate how the Ground Control Points enter the processing chain and what their impact is. We’ll take users through installation and use of OpenDroneMap, WebODM, and the processing of datasets, settings, and options therein, and discuss and demonstrate options for hosted and scalable OpenDroneMap solutions.

Organizer: Deltares/TU Delft

Partner organizations: OpenDroneMap consortium, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, World Bank

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Open Cities AI Challenge: Results workshop

February 14, 2020 3:01 am Published by Leave a comment


Open Cities AI Challenge: Results workshop

identify · ai / machine learning · data · emerging technologies

The Open Cities AI Challenge is a global machine learning competition featuring new geospatial data and $15K in prizes to engage the AI expert community to develop better solutions to map buildings in African cities and examine responsible AI use for disaster risk management (DRM). The Challenge dataset represents 10+ diverse cities and regions across Africa with high-resolution drone imagery and building footprint labels created through participatory mapping efforts.

The Challenge competition phase (running from Dec 2019 to Mar 2020 at www.drivendata.org/competitions/60/building-segmentation-disaster-resilience/) will produce high-performing open source machine learning models for building footprint segmentation and thoughtful ideas on responsibly developing and using AI systems for DRM. This workshop session convenes Challenge finalists, organizers, stakeholders, and other ML or disaster risk experts to share results, build mutual learning, and engage the wider Understanding Risk community to explore practical applications of AI solutions for DRM.

Organizer: GFDRR

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Unpacking multi-hazard early warning systems: From concepts to measurable reduction of disaster risks and impacts

February 14, 2020 2:54 am Published by Leave a comment


Unpacking multi-hazard early warning systems: From concepts to measurable reduction of disaster risks and impacts

use · risk communication · early warning · risk communication · flood · tropical cyclone-hurricane-typhoon

The concept of multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWS) is well developed – however, different actors have different understandings of what it means: From comprehensive national partnerships to global-to-local-systems of systems to software applications in operational emergency management centres. This makes it a challenge to strengthen such systems, measure their effectiveness, and report on progress. What is clear is that they aim at triggering early action ahead of hazardous situations so that the negative impacts at the so-called “last mile” are minimised. However, what kind of warning information is the most useful, and what is the right balance between too early and too late?

In order to realise this aim effectively, the “last mile” needs to become the “first mile”. By hearing from individuals, community representatives, volunteers and decision-makers directly through storytelling, videos and engaging presentations, the idea is to work “backwards” and first understand how they perceive and integrate risk and warnings in their daily lives, how and why they prepare and act (or not), which communication channels and information sources they use and why, how they define and record hazard events and associated losses and damages, etc.

This will then help technical agencies such as National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and National Disaster Risk Management Offices (NDMOs) build the right partnerships; determine the type, detail and timing of impact information and action advice they need to provide (as well as gaps to be filled through further research); and tailor it to the different stakeholders, decision points and spatial/administrative levels. In some cases and for some users it may be useful to research and warn of multiple (simultaneous and/or cascading) hazards, but sometimes it may be better to focus on only one hazard.

This Focus Day event will build on the Second Multi-Hazard Early Warning Conference (MHEWC-II) in 2019, and the UR2018 Technical Session on impact-based forecasting “Early Warning for Early Action: Forewarned and Forearmed”. It will draw from capacity development and funding programmes such as the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative, Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience (SHEAR), Asia Regional Resilience to a Changing Climate (ARRCC), Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) or Forecast-based Financing/Action (FbF/FbA), and partnerships like the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) or the International Network for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (IN-MHEWS).

These have been or are being put in place to strengthen the different crucial elements and actors of the risk information and early warning early action value chain, their interlinkages, and enabling environments that together are described as MHEWS. Many challenges encountered, lessons learnt and success stories from these programmes’ activities could be shared and discussed. International and national partners such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) with their national counterparts (e.g. NMHSs such as the UK Met Office, NDMOs, National Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies) as well as regional organizations (especially from Asia and the Pacific) will mobilise their extensive networks to bring in expertise from each MHEWS component to the Side Event. The outcomes could feed into inter-agency as well as agency-specific guidelines for strengthening MHEWS and for measuring progress and effectiveness.

Organizer: World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Partner organizations: International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Secretariat, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre), Practical Action, and national agencies and NGOs

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Working together with local communities

February 14, 2020 2:43 am Published by Leave a comment


Working together with local communities

use · stakeholder-collaboration

Community science has the power to transform your science into an impactful force for good! Thriving Earth Exchange defines community science as communities and scientists working together. Over the last 6 years, our scientists have been working with communities to develop tools and solutions that address community priorities related to climate change, natural hazards and natural resources. During that time, we’ve developed a process by which these two parties can best work together.

In this workshop, participants will learn first-hand about Thriving Earth Exchange, our community science approach and engage in real life community science scenarios. Objectives of this workshop include:

  • Identify barriers to co-creation of science and ways to overcome these barriers.
  • Provide concrete strategies that scientists can employ to make community science projects a success.
  • Teach participants how to scope community science projects through hands-on interactive activities that allow them to practice strategies and techniques

Organizer: American Geophysical Union: Thriving Earth Exchange

Partner organizations: Stanford University

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Using geospatial tools for nature-based solutions to reducing disaster and climate risks: A hands-on workshop session

February 14, 2020 2:35 am Published by Leave a comment


Using geospatial tools for nature-based solutions to reducing disaster and climate risks: A hands-on workshop session


identify · data · emerging-technologies· risk communication· risk assesSment· nature-based solutions· design, visualization and art · flood· landslide· tropical cyclone/hurricane/typhoon· landslide· drought

Ecosystems in general and Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in particular are increasingly recognized for their role in reducing disaster risk and the harmful impacts of climate change. Mangroves, sea grasses and corals have been proven to reduce wave energy and related impacts from storm surges; forests and other vegetation can reduce landslide susceptibility by removing excessive soil water content and stabilizing the soil through root networks; forests can also buffer drought by regulating humidity and increasing precipitations, through albedo, roughness, shadow, heat absorption and evapotranspiration processes.

This hands-on session will explore several innovative geospatial tools for improving our knowledge and expanding options for decision-makers in investing in nature-based solutions for reducing urgent climate and disaster risks. It will alternate between hands-on demonstrations of geospatial tools to short, interactive presentations from leaders in this field:
UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will demonstrate the global geospatial tool: “Opportunity Mapping for Ecosystem Restoration and Protection for Disaster Risk Reduction”, which won the UR Viz Risk Challenge award in 2019 for best visualization of risk at the regional scale.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sri Lanka will demonstrate a tailored version of Opportunity mapping, which includes cost-benefit scenarios for encouraging private sector investments in NbS for a river basin area.
UNEP-GRID/ University of Geneva is the world leader in disaster risk modelling and the information center for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. They will demonstrate how to verify the status of wetlands for mitigating floods at Ramsar sites using remote sensing technologies.
UN University- Institute for Environment and Human Security will demonstrate how to assess current and future climate risks using geospatial tools to evaluate “climate sensitive adaptation strategies”, for transboundary water management in West Africa, using science-based and participatory approaches.
Yale-NUS College will give a hands-on introduction to their project, Virtual Reality for Disaster Resilience (VR4DR) which uses drone photogrammetry and 360° video participatory risk assessments to provide baseline assessments of areas at risk for prevention and post-disaster recovery efforts, including the role of NbS for disaster risk reduction.

The format will be workshop style to encourage interactions and exchanges with session participants.

Organizer: United Nations Environment Programme

Partner organizations: UNPE GRID / University of Geneva, Yale-NUS College, Singapore, International Union for Conservation of Nature, United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security

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Global model of social vulnerability and resilience launch

February 14, 2020 2:21 am Published by Leave a comment


Global model of social vulnerability and resilience launch

Launch of GEM’s global social vulnerability and integrated risk modelling framework

identify · risk communication · risk assEssment · stakeholder collaboration · earthquake

At the forefront of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction is the measurement and communication of risk from natural hazards and disasters such as those caused by earthquakes. To better understand and communicate earthquake risk, a multitude of initiatives have developed state-of-the-art modeling capabilities and software tools. Few, however, have incorporated the ability to assess earthquake impact potential beyond direct physical impacts and loss of life to account for the interconnections between hazard, the built environment, and the socio-economic characteristics of populations that create the potential for harm or loss.

During this Focus Day event, the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) will officially launch its methods, metrics, and tools for the global assessment of social vulnerability and integrated risk from earthquakes.

The launch will include the showcasing of GEM’s global integrated risk products coupled with the discussion of the methods used to develop a set of three internally and externally validated maps that will be used to demonstrate social vulnerability, economic vulnerability, and recovery potential from earthquakes worldwide. During the launch, GEM scientists will also showcase the development, workflow, and use of the OpenQuake Integrated Risk Modelling Toolkit (IRMT) which is a QGIS plugin that was developed to allow users to form an integrated workflow for the construction of risk metrics by combining physical risk assessments with the measured socio-economic characteristics of populations using an Open Source GIS-based platform. The third product exhibited will be the Resilience Performance Scorecard (RPS) which is a multilevel and multiscale self-evaluation tool for community-level resilience assessments that allow stakeholders to assess and benchmark earthquake risk and resilience parameters based on qualitatively derived information using innovative data collection technologies.

As part of the launch, GEM scientists and partners will use two-way communication with participants in order to better understand stakeholder needs in the social vulnerability, resilience, risk, and integrated risk space in order to tailor products to stakeholder needs and to improve the modelling capabilities demonstrated by considering stakeholder participation.

Organizer: Global Earthquake Model – GEM