What is the difference between a side event and a technical session? A side event is simply a space that UR provides for organizations to independently develop and manage an event. The UR team has almost no involvement in the content of a side event, and only manages logistics for the side event days. Side events are allocated in blocks of 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6 and 8 hours. A technical session is more ‘formulaic’ in that every technical session is 90 minutes long and must meet certain criteria of diversity and audience engagement. Technical sessions must also incorporate the theme into the session in some way. Usually there are ~50 side events over the course of two days and ~20 technical sessions during the main conference.

How are technical sessions and side events selected? Technical sessions are selected by a steering committee based on the session objective, design, ability to integrate audience participation, diversity of the session, and overall creativity. Selected technical sessions leads will be contacted by UR before the end of 2019 to confirm their selection. Side events are selected according to their alignment with the topic of understanding risk, their importance to the UR community, and space/logistics requirements.

Are the side event days considered part of the UR2020 Forum? Absolutely! The Forum is separated into two key parts: 1) side event days, and 2) the main conference. Side event days provide the opportunity for community members to enhance their skills, meet with partners, and learn even more about what’s going on in the community.

Will the Forum be recorded or live streamed? The vast majority of the Forum (side events and technical sessions) will not be live streamed or recorded. However, we are working with local providers to assess the feasibility of these options for the plenaries.

Will there be interpretation available? No, all sessions and plenaries will be held in English. It is possible, however, for side event organizers to arrange for interpretation at their own expense.

Agenda and logistics

When can we expect to see the full program? We anticipate that the technical sessions will be finalized by February, however, plenaries and side events may take longer to take shape. Subscribe to the UR newsletter, follow UR on Twitter, and join the UR LinkedIn Group to make sure you don’t miss any announcements!

Where is UR2020 being held? UR2020 will be held at the Singapore Expo Center. There will be opportunities for field visits, as well as a likelihood of surprises in venues (as is typical of UR).

When are the side event days? When does the main conference start? We are evaluating when is the best time for side events and technical sessions. We will post a preliminary agenda when we have confirmed the timings.

UR has done Ignite presentations in the past. What are they and will you do them again? Ignites are fast-paced presentations designed to keep the audience engaged. Representatives from technical sessions have 5 minutes to “pitch” the audience their session on the opening night to get them to come to their technical session the following days. But 5 minutes goes by quickly because there are 20 slides that auto-rotate every 15 seconds. Ignites are a tradition at UR Forums and can be best thought of as a performance, rather than a lecture. We have received some feedback requesting shorter Ignites. If you have an opinion, please let us know: ur2020 [at] understandrisk [dot] org

How long are side events? Side events are anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2 full days, depending on what you request and what you are allocated.

When are the side events?  We are currently determining when the best days are for side events in the program.

Will the side event be live streamed or recorded? We will not record or live stream any side events, unless a side event organizer requests it and bears the cost of doing so.


Is there any funding for travel? Unfortunately there is no funding from UR for travel. However, we are actively pursuing partners in the hopes that they will provide scholarships. We will update you with any new information.

If I can get myself there, can you waive my registration fee? We can waive registration fees depending on the need. Please write to ur2020 [at] understandrisk [dot] org to shortly explain why you are requesting a waiver.


When does registration open? Registration is open now!

Why is UR charging a registration fee this time? Some previous events have been free. Like UR2018, we are seeing an increasing demand for participation and rising costs. UR2020 is asking attendees to register paying a small fee. This fee will provide lunch, coffee breaks and a cocktail reception to all attendees during the conference. By asking participants to pay a fee, the UR team has a better understanding of who will actually come, making our numbers more accurate and ensuring that minimal food is wasted. UR does not want the registration cost to be a barrier to entry. Understanding Risk is committed to identifying and reducing risks posed by disasters, and, specifically, ensuring that vulnerable countries develop resiliency through the knowledge sharing that takes place at UR. If you are not able to pay the registration fee, please email ur2020 [at] understandrisk [dot] org to explain why you would like a waiver.

Technical session leads

What does it mean to be a technical session lead? Check out the Guide for Session Leads

Agenda and logistics

How long are the technical sessions? 90 minutes long.

Will the session be live streamed or recorded? We are currently evaluating the feasibility of live streaming technical sessions.

What equipment can I expect to be provided for my session? We will provide wifi, projector/screen or LCD tvs, and laptops for presentations. If you require anything further, please ask, but we may not be able to provide.


When are the Ignite presentations? We are currently evaluating when the Ignites will occur.

Am I required to do an Ignite? No, this year we are changing things up to minimize the amount of time dedicated to Ignites (2 hours was too long in the past). Thus, we will select the top most engaging Ignites.

Is there an Ignite rehearsal? Must the Ignite presenter attend the rehearsal? It is required that the presenter attend a rehearsal if s/he wants to present. We will offer two time slots for an in-person rehearsal


What are some interactive tools that can be used to poll the audience? We have experience working with Mentimeter or PollEverywhere


Action Timeline
Technical Session Proposals October 31, 2019
Revised Session Title and Abstract February 1, 2020
List of Potential Panelists February 1, 2020
Share Resources January 15 – April 15, 2020
Final Session Title and Abstract February 15, 2020
Final List of Panelists Provided, including bios and pictures April 15, 2020
Ignite Video Submitted April 20, 2020
Powerpoints from Panelists Submitted May 1, 2020
Ignite Rehearsal for Those Selected(in Singapore) May 17 or 18, 2020
Summary of the Session August 1, 2020


Download the Guide for Session Leads

Side event organizers

If I am involved in a side event (either as an organizer or as a speaker) do I have to pay the registration fee? Yes, we are only waiving fees for speakers / organizers of the main conference. Your registration fee includes catering for all five days and access to the main conference.

What role does the UR team have in organizing the content of the side event? The UR team has no role in planning, organizing or managing the side event. The UR team only will support the side event from a logistical perspective.

What equipment can I expect to be provided for my session? We will provide wifi and a projector/screen or LCD TVs (depending on the room). You must provide your own laptop and any other equipment you need.

How can I get my abstract and other information about my side event on the UR2020 agenda? There is a deadline for Feb. 15 for content to be uploaded promptly. For any information we receive after this time, we will do our best to attend to it ASAP, but may be a bit delayed.

Is there funding for participants? No, unfortunately we do not have any funding for participants.

Do side event organizers have to do an Ignite presentation? No, the Ignite presentations are reserved for the technical session leads. However, we have found that Ignites are a fun, dynamic and engaging way of communicating content to an audience, and is an encouraged format for events.

What are some interactive tools that can be used to poll the audience? We have experience working with Mentimeter or PollEverywhere