UCL IRDR 7th Annual Conference

13 April 2017

Conference theme: Global Challenges in Disaster Risk Reduction and Response

Wednesday 21st June 2017 

09:00 - 20:00 UCL Roberts G06 and Roberts Foyer 

We welcome researchers, practitioners, NGOs, city professionals and the interested public to a day of thought-provoking discussions where our in-house and guest experts will present the latest research and issues in risk and disaster reduction, through a combination of talks, panel discussion, conversation, and poster presentations. 

Annual Conference Sessions

Safer Communities through Safer Schools and Digital Health (talks)

This session will showcase some recent advances and perspectives in assessing and increasing multi-hazard resilience of schools, with special focus on developing countries. In addition, the session will highlight the opportunities for interdisciplinary digital health research to further strengthen the resilience of children and local communities.

Like other infrastructure, school buildings constructed prior to adequate building codes are subject to damage and collapse in the event of an earthquake and other natural hazards. An unsafe school in a hazard-prone region can incur the loss of the lives of hundreds of school children - a vulnerable population due to their age and their developmental stage - in addition to the potential damage to the property. On the other hand, a safer school can save valuable lives of children, provide a haven for the local community, serve as a temporary shelter and help to bring normalcy back to society in times of disaster. The collapse of a school building is particularly devastating to communities, as schools can hold an entire generation, a community’s future.

From serious games raising awareness of hygiene and antibiotic resistance to prevent disease outbreaks at schools to natural hazards safety training for children, digital technology has become fully established as an important vehicle for public health and safety children' education, making children safer while raising community’s resilience.

This session aims at bringing together academics, scientists, NGOs and private sector actors from across the social and physical sciences, engineering, and health. The session will also provide the opportunity to highlight cross-disciplinary research in the IRDR on those areas.

Gender Responsive Disaster Risk Reduction – Rhetoric or Action? (in Conversation)

In this session, Maureen Fordham, Professor of Gender and Disaster Resilience, will be interviewed on gender responsive disaster risk reduction – rhetoric or action? We will explore:

* How and why Maureen set up the gender and disasters network 

* Why there was a need for this network and this field of work 

* The most important advances in this field and that Maureen has been involved in 

* The most pressing issues and needs for action in this field going forwards

Global Challenges and Advances in Disaster Risk Reduction (posters)

Call for Abstracts for Poster Presentations

Call for abstracts for the poster session on, “Global Challenges and Advances in Disaster Risk Reduction" is now open. We invite submissions relating to understanding any aspect of the causes of disasters, and understanding and assessing their impacts and associated risks. Abstracts should include a title, author names and affiliations, and main text no longer than 300 words, preferably without references. Please submit to Dr Robert Wicks ( by Friday 2nd June. Poster boards will be 1m x 1m.

Disaster Law and Human Rights (panel discussion)

Session organiser: Dr Ilan Kelman, UCL IRDR and UCL IGH

Panel discussion on disaster law and human rights. Panellists to include Dr Karen da Costa and Dr Marie Aronsson-Storrier. More details soon

Keynote Address: Emergency Medical Response in Conflict Areas

This Keynote address will be delivered by Andre Heller Perache, Head of Programmes at MSF UK

Speaker Profiles 

Professor Maureen Fordham

Maureen Fordham

Maureen Fordham is Professor of Gender and Disaster Resilience and is a Professorial Research Associate at UCL IRDR. She has been researching disasters since 1988 and has a particular interest in marginalized and, so-called, vulnerable groups in disaster including women and children in particular. She was a founding member of the Gender and Disaster Network in 1997 and is the coordinator of its website (

and activities. She is a frequent participant in gender and disaster policy level meetings within the UN system as well as nationally and internationally. She has edited, and is on the editorial boards of, international disaster-related journals.

Maureen has led many research projects that integrate gender responsiveness into disaster risk reduction, working with local, national and international agencies. She is currently PI on a UCL IRDR project on “Increasing maternal and child health resilience before, during and after disasters using mobile technology in Nepal”.

Dr Karen da Costa, UCL Laws


Karen joined UCL Laws in September 2014, to work full-time as a research associate on the ‘Human Rights Beyond Borders’ project, on the extraterritorial application of human rights law.  The project is funded by the European Research Council, and led by Karen’s colleague, Dr Ralph Wilde. Karen holds a PhD (2011) in International Studies from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, University of Geneva. She also holds the European Master (2003) in International Humanitarian Assistance, Network on Humanitarian Assistance (NOHA) from the Ruhr-University of Bochum and

an LLM (2002) in German Law from the Ludwig-Maximilans University (Munich). Her research interests relate to international human rights law, including the impact of disasters on the enjoyment of human rights. She works at UCL as Research Associate in International Law. Her previous work experience includes positions as University Fellow (Teaching & Research) in Human Rights at the Irish Centre for Human Rights – National University of Ireland, Galway; Legal Consultant for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; and Human Rights Officer at the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire. Her book ‘The Extraterritorial Application of Selected Human Rights Treaties’ was published in 2013 by Brill/Martinus Nijhoff Publishers in the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Series.

Ms Marie Aronsson-Storrier, University of Reading


Marie is a Research Fellow in Global Law and Disasters at the University of Reading, where she conducts research and teaching in the developing field of international disaster law, as well as related areas of international law, in particular, human rights and the protection of vulnerable groups, armed conflict, sustainable development, water security, sanitation and disaster risk reduction. Her PhD thesis at the University of

Melbourne explores covert operations and the development of international law on the use of force. Marie has published in the areas of International Disaster Law, Disaster Risk Reduction, International Law on the Use of Force, International Criminal Law and International Humanitarian Law, and she serves as regional co-ordinator for the Digest of the State Practice for Europe for the Journal on the Use of Force and International Law. Before commencing her PhD candidature, Marie worked as a research assistant on the Every Casualty programme of the Oxford Research Group. She holds a Master of Laws from the University of Gothenburg.

Dr Andreea Molnar, Lancaster University


Andreea Molnar is a Senior Lecturer at the Lancaster University. Previously she has been an Associate Faculty at Arizona State University and a postdoctoral researcher at Brunel University and City University London. She has a PhD in Technology Enhanced Learning from National College of Ireland.

Prior to enrolling in her academic career she worked as a software developer.

Her research interests include serious games for health and adoption and diffusion of information systems in general, and usage of information technology in healthcare in particular.

Andrea will speak in the session on 'Safer Schools through Safer Communities and Digital Health', on "Safety to Health and Play"

Dr Christophe Belperron, Save the Children


Christophe Belperron has 20 years of experience in humanitarian sector working across a wide range of domains covering social inclusion, livelihood development and resilience. He has built his experience in risk and resilience working with communities of the Himalaya range, from the Pamir to Nepal, on various integrated mountains development

initiatives. He is currently senior technical advisor on risk and resilience for SC UK aiming at piloting the integration of resilience as a mainstreaming thematic for the entire movement. He provides technical support to various SCI projects in Asia and Africa on DRR, CCA and resilience both in rural and urban context. 

Christophe will speak on "The Comprehensive School Safety framework, a global approach to make schools and children safer from disaster" in the 'Safer Communities through Safer Schools and Digital Health' session.

Professor Dina D'Ayala, UCL CEGE


Dina D’Ayala is a Professor of Structural Engineering in the Department of Civil Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE) at UCL. She is Head of the Civil Engineering section in CEGE, Co-Director of the Earthquake and People Interaction Centre (EPICentre), and Director of the newly built UCL-Here East Env&Mech Lab. Her research focuses on the multi-hazard risk and resilience assessment and strengthening of existing structures, transport and school infrastructure and cultural heritage. She has

25 years’ experience working with international agencies, including the World Bank (WB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the British Council, in countries such as Nepal, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Philippines etc, contributing or leading interdisciplinary projects on enhancing resilience against natural hazards. She is a member of the Global Programme for Safe Schools (GPSS) by WB and leads the development of a framework for a Global Library of School Typologies, Vulnerability Functions and Strengthening Strategies. She is also a member of the Management Board of International Center for Collaborative Research on Disaster Risk Reduction (ICCR-DRR) at Beijing Normal University and a Director of the International Association of Earthquake Engineers (IAEE).

Dina will speak in session entitled ‘Safer Communities through Safer Schools and Digital Health’.

Professor Lessandro Estelito O. Garciano, DLSU, Manilla, Philippines


Lessandro Estelito O. Garciano is an Associate professor and Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at De La Salle University (DLSU), Manila. He obtained his Master of Engineering and Doctor of Engineering degrees from Tokyo City University, Japan. He also obtained a Master of Science in Civil Engineering (with focus on Structural Engineering) degree from DLSU. His research interests include wind, earthquake and flood hazard mapping, Bayesian updating methods, multi-hazard risk

analysis and reliability theory. He is a member of Loads and Action Committee of the National Structural Code of the Philippines (NSCP), a director of the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (ASEP), and the managing director of the ASEP Research and Development Committee. He is currently the Principal Investigator in the Philippines for ‘SCOSSO: Safer Communities thrOugh Safer SchOols’ funded by the UCL-EPSRC Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and for ‘PRISMH: Philippines Resilience of Schools to Multi-Hazards’ funded by the British Council, Newton Fund Institutional Links Grants.

Lessandro will speak in session entitled ‘Safer Communities through Safer Schools and Digital Health’.

IRDR audience photo


09:00 – 09:30 Registration

09:30 – 11:00 Safer Communities through Safer Schools and Digital Health (talks)

11:30 – 13:00 Panel discussion on Disaster Law and Human Rights

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch break

14:30 – 15:30 Keynote address on disaster relief operations

15:30 – 16:00 coffee

16:00 – 17:00 In Conversation with Maureen Fordham on gender responsive disaster risk reduction – rhetoric or action?

17:00 – 17:30 Poster introductions

17:30 – 20:00 Reception and Poster Presentations

Tweet about the conference on #IRDR7th 

The event is free to attend, but you need to register on Eventbrite 

Eventbrite - UCL IRDR 7th Annual Conference