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IRDR Fourth Annual Conference

Publication date: Mar 13, 2014 10:50:00 AM

Start: Jun 18, 2014 9:00:00 AM
End: Jun 18, 2014 8:00:00 PM

Location: Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre and South Cloisters

A day of thought-provoking discussions, talks by experts and presentations of the latest research in risk and disaster reduction, aimed at researchers and practioners, NGOs and City professionals, and the interested public. Wednesday 18th June 09:00 - 20:00, UCL Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre and South Cloisters.

IRDR Launch Event Audience

Conference Themes

Cascading Crises

Panel Discussion

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the disasters of conflict, refugees, rising food and fuel prices and drought as a cascading crisis sweeping the Sahel. But cascading crises are not new: the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, with fire sweeping the city fanned by an ill-timed cyclone, caused unprecedented damage but also political change; while a cascade of crises led to the nuclear incident at Fukushima. This session will interrogate the interaction between physical phenomena and society and the implications for engineering and health of cascading crises.

Session Organiser: Prof Peter Sammonds (UCL IRDR)

Chair: Dr Dina D'Ayla (UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering

Panellists:  Prof Sarah Curtis, Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience, Durham University; Kim Hagen, Trilateral Research and Consulting; Prof Brian Golding, UK Met Office; Dr Gordon Woo, RMS

The Role of Women in Disaster Risk Reduction

Women are disproportionately affected by disasters and largely excluded from decision making in disaster risk reduction (DRR).  The UN ISDR is setting the agenda for a new International Framework for Action for Disaster Risk Reduction (HFA2) for 2015-2015. The UCL IRDR aims to influence their goal of placing women at the centre of DRR policy making and practice.​ This session will be introduced by Ms Paola Albrito, UNISDR Regional Coordinator for Europe. Speakers in this session will address how good policy and theory in this area can be translated into practice.

Speakers Include:

Dr Maureen Fordham, Principal Lecturer in Disaster Management, Northumbria University: If I wanted to get to there, I wouldn't start from here: Disaster Risk Reduction and gender equity. 

Farnaz Arefian, UCL DPU, Director of Phoenix Civitas and Founding Director of Silk Cities: The role of women in improving the built environment in disaster prone regions; how reconstruction activities can contribute to women's awareness of DRR.

Daniel Morchain, Oxfam, Global Advisor, Climate Change Adaptation: Women's role in identifying and prioritising action in risk reduction and resilience building plans in rural communities.

Managing Risks in Business and Government

Dr Dougal Goodman, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Science and Technology and former head of safety at BP and former Deputy Director of the British Antarctic Survey, will be in conversation with BBC Science Correspondent Pallab Ghosh on his lifetime career Managing Risks both in Business and in Government, and give his insights on responding to the next wave of challenges.

Building Resilience of Communities and Infrastructure

This poster session, featuring the latest research from across the UK, will cover understanding the hazards, understanding and assessing their impacts, and how to build both societal and physical resilience to these hazards. 

Building a more resilient country: policy and practical challenges

In this year's Keynote Address, Dr Robert Macfarlane of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the UK Cabinet Office will provide wide ranging coverage of the work undertaken by the CCS. This will cover the work they co-ordinate across government, and the real practical work that is done at local level.

Call For Abstracts:

Call for abstracts for the poster session on, "Building resilience of communities and infrastructure to single and cascading hazards" is now open. We invite submissions relating to understanding the hazards, understanding and assessing their impacts, and on how to build both societal and physical resilience to these hazards. Abstracts should include a title, author names and affiliations, and main text no longer than 300 words, preferably without references. Please submit to Dr Gordon Ross (gordon.ross@ucl.ac.uk) by Monday 26th May.

Conference Speakers:

Keynote: Dr Robert MacFarlane, Assistant Director, Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Cabinet Office

Assistant Director, Resilience Training & Doctrine, Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Cabinet Office

Robert MacFarlane

Rob MacFarlane is Assistant Director (Training and Doctrine) in the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, National Security Secretariat, Cabinet Office. Within the Cabinet Office, Rob has a range of responsibilities, including supporting doctrinal coherence in UK civil protection and assurance of the content of all courses run by the Serco-managed Emergency Planning College (EPC). Additionally he is responsible for the programme of Central Government Emergency Response Training in Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR), established following the London Bombings in 2005, supports the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP), and has oversight of research engagement in the field of civil protection. Rob has a PhD from the University of Aberdeen and is currently studying part time, sponsored by the Cabinet Office, for a Doctorate in Business Administration at the University of Durham, focusing on decision support for strategic crisis management in COBR.​

Dr Dougal Goodman, Chief Executive of The Foundation for Science and Technology

Dougal Goodman

Dr Dougal Goodman OBE FREng, is Chief Executive of The Foundation for Science and Technology, a charity that works between both Houses of Parliament, Whitehall, business and the research community to promote debate about policy issues that have a science, engineering, technology or medical element (www.foundation.org.uk).

He is also non-executive Chairman of the Lighthill Risk Network, a consortium of insurance companies working to bridge the gap between the insurance market and the research community and does consulting work on strategy and risk for the marine insurance market. He is a former Deputy Director of the British Antarctic Survey and a general manager for BP where he also worked as head of safety for the company, in the insurance department, as operations manager for the Magnus oil field and in strategy and planning.

He has served on a wide range of committees including currently the Advisory Board of the Financial Services Knowledge Transfer Network and the Public Affairs Committee of The Royal Academy of Engineering. He is a Fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Statistical Society, the Institute of Physics, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. He is a visiting professor at UCL IRDR. He was awarded the OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2012.

Dougal will be in conversation with Pallab Ghosh on "Managing Risks in Business and Government" at 4pm.

Pallab Ghosh, BBC Science Correspondent

Pallab Ghosh portrait


Pallab Ghosh is currently a science correspondent for BBC news, reporting on scientific advances in areas of public interest. He joined the BBC in 1989 after beginning his journalism career in 1984. Upon joining the BBC he worked as a general news producer on BBC Radio’s The World at One and then became a senior producer on the Today Programme.

Ghosh has previously been named the BT Technology Journalist of the Year. He was President of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) from 2007 to 2009, a not-for-profit and non-governmental organisation, representing global science journalists’ associations. He is a former Chairman of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW). He was part of the BBC News science team that won a Sir Arthur C Clarke award for their coverage of stories relating to space in 2009.​

Pallab will be in conversation with Dougal Goodman on "Managing Risks in Business and Government" at 4pm.

Prof Sarah Curtis, Professor of Health Risks, Director of the Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience, Durham University

Sarah Curtis

Director of the Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience, Durham University, informing disaster response and resilience. Prof Curtis specialises in risks for health and health care. She will be a panellist in our panel discusssion on 'Cascading Crises'

Sarah Curtis is Executive Director of the Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience at Durham University, UK, enabling, developing and supporting research on a range of hazards and risks in the natural and socio-economic environment, informing strategies for disaster response, preparedness and resilience. She is a specialist in health geography, and has published widely in this field. Her personal research focuses particularly on the wider determinants and risks for human health in the social and physical environment. Recent research includes work on how to adapt the built, institutional and social infrastructures that support health and social care for older people, to make them more resilient to the impacts of extreme weather events.

Her extensive knowledge exchange activities have contributed to the work of non-academic agencies, such as: the World Health Organization, NHS Sustainable Development Unit, Department of Environment of Food, and Rural Affairs, Environment Agency, the Improvement and Development Agency, the Department of Health UK; Public health agencies across England; the National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy, Canada.

She is a member (Ministerial Nominee) of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France; Academician Academy of Social Sciences, Member Society of Social Medicine, , and Chartered Geographer (Founder Member) Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers and the RGS/Geography of Health Research Group, Member of the Royal Society of Medicine, Fellow Higher Education Academy, Fellow. She was Senior Editor, Medical Geography, for the journal Social Science and Medicine (2003 - 2012).

Prof Brian Golding, Fellow in Weather Impacts at UK Met Office

Brian Golding

Fellow in Weather Impacts at the Met Office, Visiting Professor at Exeter and Bristol Universities, and Consultant to the World Meteorological Organisation. He will be a panellist in our panel discusssion on 'Cascading Crises'

Prof Brian Golding has been involved in Numerical Weather Prediction since joining the Met Office in 1972. In the late 1970s he developed the Met Office's ocean wave prediction system and was involved in early work on the UK wave power climate. In the 1980s, after a short spell in operational forecasting, he led the team that developed the world's first operational non-hydrostatic mesoscale NWP system. In 1990 he was seconded to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for two years, when he used this model to study Australian weather systems. On his return, he led the development of the Nimrod automated nowcasting system. More recently, he has contributed to the application of rainfall forecasts in flood prediction and participated in the Pitt review of the 2007 summer floods. From 2006 to 2012 Brian directed the Met Office's research in Weather Science. In 2010 he was Met Office spokesman on the spread of volcanic ash during the Ejyafjallajokull eruption. Brian is currently analysing a forecasting trial of localized flooding carried out during the Olympic Games. He is also developing a plan for an international project to advance the science of High Impact Weather forecasts and is a co-PI of the MED-MI collaboration, with the Health Protection Agency, the London School of Hygience & Tropical Medicine and the European Centre for Environment & Human Health, to develop a platform for linking weather and health databases.

· Brian is a visiting professor at the Universities of Exeter and Bristol and serves on the Strategic Advisory Board of the Cabot Institute.

· Brian serves on the Programme Executive Boards of the NERC Storm Risk Mitigation, Changing Water Cycle and Floods from Intense Rainfall programmes.

· In 2013 Brian was recently awarded the OBE for services to weather forecasting and the prediction of hazardous weather.

Dr Gordon Woo, Catastrophist at Risk Management Solutions (RMS)

Gordon Woo

Trained in mathematical physics, Dr. Woo has consulted on all the various natural hazards for industrial corporations, government organizations, as well as the global insurance industry.

Gordon Woo is a catastrophist at Risk Management Solutions (RMS), specializing in mathematical modeling of extreme risks, with a particular focus on catastrophe insurance. Apart from his scientific papers, he is the author of two books, published by Imperial College Press: ‘The Mathematics of Natural Catastrophes’, and ‘Calculating Catastrophe’.

Top mathematics graduate of Cambridge University, he completed his PhD in theoretical physics at MIT as a Kennedy Scholar, and was a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He is an adjunct professor at the Institute of Catastrophe Risk Management at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and has just been appointed a visiting professor at UCL.

Daniel Morchain, Oxfam, Global Adviser, Climate Change Adaptation

Daniel Morchain

Daniel has worked with local authorities, and smallholder farmers in developing and implementing strategies to adapt to climate change and to increase resilience. With Oxfam, he is global adviser on climate change adaptation and works on a number of initiatives around climate change adaptation, as well as gender justice, such as the Gendered Enterprise and Markets (GEM) initiative. Recently he's been working on a participatory, multi-hazard Vulnerability and Risk Assessment methodology, which helps identify the way hazards impact different social groups within communities - each faced with different constraints and a set of capabilities -; groups which include women and sub-sets of groups of women. Based on this analysis and the result of subsequent steps in the methodology, focus areas of interventions are identified and prioritised for the development of community risk reduction & resilience building action plans.


Before joining Oxfam, Daniel worked with the Stockholm Environment Institute and with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability on climate change adaptation research and projects. Daniel has a Master's degree in Environment Management and Policy from Lund University's International Institute for Industrial Environment Economics (IIIEE),Sweden and has completed postgraduate courses on resilience and climate change adaptation at the UN University in Japan.

Daniel will give a talk on, "Women's role in identifying and prioritising action in risk reduction and resilience building plans in rural communities' in the session on the Role of Women in DIsaster Risk Reduction.

Fatemah (Farnaz) Arefian, UCL Development Planning Unit

Fatemah Arefian, Dip Arch, MSc Town planning and Urban Design, PG (Dip) Strategic Management and Leadership, Prince 2 Project Management, PhD Candidate at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL.


Farnaz is an academic-practitioner with 20 years of experience in private sector management, urban design and architecture, as well as research in Iran and UK.  Her professional experience includes new-towns, post disaster reconstruction and large-scale urban development plans and regeneration in historic fabrics and mixed-use architectural projects, housing development projects that were delivered through her architecture and urban design practices in Iran and UK, Aseman Naghshineh and Civitas Phoenix group. She returned to academia related to one of her professional experiences on disaster management. She is conducting a multidisciplinary research project: Looking at Organisation theory in order to understand organisation design and management for reconstruction programmes, which concern people's participation and future disaster risk reduction. During her doctoral studies, she was the lead coordinator for an international conference on Urban Change in Iran at UCL in November 2012, for which  UCL was praised by UNESCO Director General. She founded Silk Cities as the follow up initiative as a contextual connective platform and an ongoing project. Farnaz served as a member of the board of the Society of Iranian Town Planners. She is a fellow member of Chartered Management Institute and International Development Network at RTPI.

Farnaz will speak in the session on the Role of Women in Disaster Risk Reduction, talking about the role that she and other women have in improving the built environment in disaster prone regions, and how reconstruction activities can contribute to women’s awareness of DRR.

Dr Maureen Fordham, Professor of Gender and Disaster Resilience, Northumbria University

Maureen Fordham

Maureen is a founder member and long time Coordinator of the Gender and Disaster Network (www.gdnonline.org); She is also the co-founder and co-editor (with Ben Wisner) of Radix – Radical Interpretations of Disaster (website www.radixonline.org, discussion list RADIX@JISCMAIL.AC.UK), which was stimulated by concerns following the 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador and Gujarat. Her areas of interest and expertise include:

Gender and disaster risk reduction

Disaster resilience

Sustainable hazard and disaster policy and management

Children and disaster risk reduction

Vulnerability and capacity analysis

Community-based disaster risk reduction

In the field of gender and disaster risk reduction, her most recent publication was with Dr Sarah Bradshaw: WOMEN, GIRLS AND DISASTERS: A review for DFID (pdf download)

She is currently Scientific Coordinator of the EU FP7 project emBRACE: Building Resilience Amongst Communities in Europe www.embrace-eu.org.

After receiving her PhD in 1992, Maureen remained at Middlesex University Flood Hazard Research Centre, where she became the Centre Manager. In 1995 she went to Anglia Ruskin University where her last post was as Head of Geography (Acting). She moved to Northumbria University in 2002 primarily to teach on the MSc Disaster Management and Sustainable Development and to continue her research and outreach interests. She has more than 20 years experience of delivering training on various aspects of gender, disaster and environmental management.

Kim Hagen, Trilateral Research & Consulting

Kim Hagen

Trilateral is a London based niche research and advisory consultancy bringing together strategy, technology and policy.  Kim Hagen joined Trilateral Research & Consulting in 2014. Her areas of expertise and interest are centred on the interaction between people and the environments they inhabit, including community resilience and disaster preparation, response and recovery, natural resource management, international development, and qualitative research methods. Before joining Trilateral she worked in the fields of natural resource management and sustainable development, both in academia and in non-governmental organisations. Kim holds a BA and MA in Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies from the Radboud University Nijmegen and an MSc in Environment and Resource Management from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, both in the Netherlands, and is close to completing a PhD on community resilience to natural hazards at The Open University in partnership with the British Geological Survey. She is currently also assistant-editor to the journal Disaster Prevention and Management.

Paola Albrito, Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Regional Office for Europe

Paola Albrito


Paola Albrito is the Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Regional Office for Europe and has covered disaster risk reduction activities in the European region since 2007. She joined UNISDR in 2004 during the preparations for the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2004 analyzing the national progress reports received from national authorities in feeding the Conference with the Outcome Analysis Document on the status on DRR implementation at the global level. She assisted the inter-governmental Drafting Committee and Main Committee of the Conference in charge of developing the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters adopted by the United Nations General Assembly with resolution 60/195 endorsed by the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, in January 2005.

 In March 2005 she worked on Policy Issues related topics particularly related to the follow-up to the Hyogo Framework for Action, including development of guidelines related to indicators towards assessing disaster risk reduction issues and how to mainstream disaster risk reduction in sustainable development policy and programme.

Paola holds a Masters in International Relations and Political Science, University of Turin, with research conducted at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), London. She worked, at the beginning of her career, at the United Nations Staff System College (UNSSC) in Turin, Italy, where she supported UN country teams in developing sustainable development policies.  In 2000 she joined the UN Resident Coordinator Office in Djibouti as Coordinator/Programme Analyst coordinating the development of the Common Country Assessment and United Nations Development Assistance Framework (programmes addressing sustainable development issues­­­). She also worked as an independent consultant with programme evaluations within the International Labor Organization.

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Fukushima Kimonos Exhibition

During the conference, the UCL South Cloisters will host an exhibition of the provocative and critically acclaimed Fukushima Kimonos--a triptique of ceramic sculptures first produced by the Japanese artist Yuki Yamaguchi in response to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan. The Kimonos challenge us to reflect upon the role played by tradition in contemporary life, especially when disasters, both man-made and natural, impact on society and culture. Yamaguchi’s sculptures are internationally celebrated for their organic forms, refined palette, and balance of the Japanese spirit of Zen with influences from around the world.

Members of the Public are welcome to view this exhibit for free from 09:00 until 17:30. From 17:30 the area will be restricted to conference delegates during the conference research poster session and IRDR summer party, giving conference delegates the chance to admire this exhibit.

Eventbrite - IRDR Fourth Annual Conference

This meeting is free to attend, but you need to register.

  Conference Programme
09:00-09:20 Registration
09:20-09:30 Welcome
09:30-11:00 Cascading Crises Panel Discussion
11:00-11:30 Coffee Break
11:30-13:00 The Role of Women in Disaster Risk Reduction
13:00-14:30 Lunch
14:30-15:30 Keynote Address
15:30-16:00 Coffee Break
16:00-17:00 In Conversation on Managing Risks in Business and Government
17:00-17:30 Research Poster Introductions
17:30-20:00 Research Poster Session, Fukushima Kimonos Exhibition, and IRDR Summer Party

For more information please download the following PDFs:

Annual Conference 2014 map
Locations: The event will take place in the Gustave Tuck lecture theatre, (2nd floor, blue circle), and in the South Cloisters (blue circle)

 Conference Convenor: Rosanna Smith