Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga and Professor Richard Haigh (centre) at the Philippines conference at De La Salle University Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga and Professor Richard Haigh (centre) at the Philippines conference at De La Salle University

The Philippines has been identified as being one of the highest natural hazard risks in the world

THE Philippines has been identified in the World Risk Report as being one of the highest natural hazard risks in the world and with half of its cities built on flood plains and millions of people at risk.  Two Huddersfield Professors have now called for scientific research on disaster management to be fully explained and applied in the communities that are likely to be affected.

Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga and Professor Richard Haigh, of the University’s Global Disaster Resilience Centre, delivered keynote speeches at De La Salle University in the Philippines at a five-day long international workshop attended by a total of 58 academics and local stakeholders.

Collaboration was key in organising this international event, entitled Localising Strategies for Making Cities Resilient to Disasters, as Professor Amaratunga worked closely with Professor Andres Winston of De La Salle University as workshop leaders, in the Philippines’ capital city, Manila.

The workshop was held in association with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR’s) facilitated Making Cities Resilient campaign and was jointly funded by the British Council, for the UK participants, and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for the Philippine participants.

Professor Haigh gave the opening keynote, Why are cities at risk of disaster?, followed by a presentation of research posters from early-career researchers.

Day two launched with Professor Amaratunga’s talk and she spoke about the Sendai Framework of Disaster Reduction, which maps out the course of global action over the next 15 years and its links with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Also taking centre stage on day two was the UNISDR’s guide Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient, which focuses on the ability of a city to “plan for, mitigate, respond, recover, adapt and grow” after major disasters in the light of its “unique physical, economic, environmental and social circumstances”.

On day three delegates travelled to Makati City for a site visit to view the UNISDR’s model city for making cities resilient.  The visit provided the delegates with the opportunity to be observers and evaluators of their formal “Evacuation Drill”.

The final two days saw delegates engaged in multi-disciplinary discussions and brainstorming sessions to further understand the differences, overlaps and potential synergies across the Ten Essentials.  The different groups were asked to come up with a plan of how to effectively address the Ten Essentials in the local cities and towns in support of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sendai Framework SDGs.  Their plans were delivered on the workshop’s final day in the form of a research road map. 

The organisers are now working to publish the road map and present it to UNISDR in the coming weeks.

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