UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


UCL IRDR 9th Annual Conference

9:00 am to 8:00 pm, 19 June 2019

2019 Annual Conference

A day of thought-provoking talks and discussions where our in-house and guest experts will present the latest research and issues in cascading and interconnected risk

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Dr Gianluca Pescaroli


Darwin Lecture Theatre and South Cloisters
044: Darwin Building
Gower Street
United Kingdom

2019 UCL IRDR Annual Conference theme: Cascading and Interconnected Risk

We welcome researchers, students, practioners, 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 cascading and interconnected risk, through a combination of talks, panel discussion, conversation, and poster presentations. The conference themes and presentations will promote a better understanding of the multidisciplinary components of cascading and interconnected risk.

Conference Programme: 

  • 09:00 - 09:20 Registration
  • 9:20 - 9:30 Welcome by Prof. Peter Sammonds  
  • 09:30 - 11:00 Thinking the Worst: complex, cascading and extreme disasters. Chair: Prof. David Alexander
  • 11:00 -11:30 Coffee break  
  • 11:30 - 12:30 Keynote by Lord Toby Harris
  • 12:30 - 14:00 Lunch break  
  • 14:00 - 15:30 Assessment and modelling of multi and interconnected hazards in the built environment. Chair: Dr. Joanna Faure Walker  
  • 15:30 - 16:00 Coffee
  • 16:00 - 17:00 In conversation. Guest interviewer: Connie St Louis
  • 17:00 - 17:30 Poster presentation

Conference Sessions

Thinking the Worst: complex, cascading and extreme disasters

Chair: Professor David Alexander, UCL IRDR

This session will explore some of the challenges posed by the complexity of modern life in the face of hazards and threats that may cause serious harm or disruption. Modern societies are heavily dependent on networks and critical infrastructure. Despite efforts to safeguard these, sooner or later major disruption is bound to occur, perhaps with seriously damaging consequences. Moreover, disruption can propagate through networks and linked vulnerability states until it creates escalation points, at which consequences are worsened by the interaction of different vulnerabilities. This session will discuss complexity in the management of hazards, risks, threats and disasters, including cyber risks, infrastructure failures, compound hazards, and the complex consequences of terrorism or extreme events with natural causes. It is imperative that we build scenarios for some of the more serious but less likely adverse events so that foresight can be exercised and contingency plans made. The session will discuss the challenges and rewards of scenario planning.

Keynote Address

by Lord Toby Harris. See full profile below.

Assessment and modelling of multi and interconnected hazards in the built environment

Chair: Dr Joanna Faure Walker

The need for multihazard and interconnected hazard risk assessment, education, and warning is increasingly being recognised. For example, an aim of The Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction 2015-2030 is to increase the availability of multihazard risk information and early warning systems. In this session, we will discuss the progress, challenges and barriers to interconnected and multihazard disaster risk reduction in the context of the built environment. Talks in this session will focus on interconnected and multihazard early warning systems, building vulnerability assessment, and catastrophe modelling.

Speakers include (see profiles below)

Prof Dina D'Ayala

Prof Dilanthi Amaratunga

In Conversation on Health Emergencies

Oliver Morgan PhD MSc FFPH, Director of the Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Department in the Health Emergencies Program at the World Health Organization, will be interviewed by Connie St. Louis. See Oliver's full profile below.

Poster session on Assessing and reducing risk from single, multiple and interconnected hazards. CALL FOR ABSTRACTS NOW OPEN

Chair: Dr Katerina Stavrianaki, UCL IRDR and UCL Statistical Sciences

Call for Abstracts for Poster Presentations on, “Assessing and reducing risk from single, multiple and interconnected hazards.” at the UCL IRDR 9th Annual Conference (19th June 2019) 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 under subject line “Abstract for UCL IRDR annual conference” to k.stavrianaki@ucl.ac.uk by Friday 24th May.

Speaker Profiles 

Keynote Speaker: Toby Harris (Lord Harris of Haringey)

House of Lords, member of Joint Committee on National Security Strategy 

Lord Toby Harris has been Chair of the National Trading Standards Board, which is responsible for delivering national and cross-boundary consumer protection enforcement activity, since May 2013.  He has been appointed as Chair of the Fundraising Regulator, overseeing charitable fundraising, from January 2019.  He is also the UK Coordinator of the Electrical Infrastructure Security Council and chairs the Independent Reference Group for the National Crime Agency.  In 2016, he conducted an Independent Review for the Mayor of London on London’s Preparedness to Respond to a Major Terrorist Incident. At the request of the Minister for Prisons, he led an Independent Review on the Deaths of Young People in Prison Custody.  The report (“The Harris Review: Changing Prisons, Saving Lives”) that was published in July 2015 and is the most substantial review of penal policy for nearly thirty years.  He was also Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody that reports to the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Department of Health from 2009 to 2015. He was made a Life Peer in June 1998 and is Chair of the Labour Peers. In 2013, he chaired the House of Lords Committee on the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy.  He has been a member of the Joint Committee on National Security from 2016 and previously from 2010 to 2014.  He was also a member of the House of Lords Select Committee that reported on Personal Internet Security in 2007.  He is Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Policing and an Officer of the Parliamentary Internet and Communications Technology Forum. Comments by Lord Harris were published recently in the media on topics such as the drone alarm in Gatwick airport and on the status of contingency planning for Brexit.

In conversation: Oliver Morgan PhD MSc FFPH

Dr. Oliver Morgan is the Director of the Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Department in the Health Emergencies Program at the World Health Organization.  Dr. Morgan’s portfolio includes global surveillance for public health emergencies, risk assessment of new events, epidemiological field investigations, data analytics, and developing information systems for emergencies.  Previously, Dr. Morgan worked for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007-2017), the UK Health Protection Agency (2002-2007), and with non-governmental humanitarian organizations (1996-2000).  Dr. Morgan has extensive international experience that includes epidemiological investigations of infectious disease outbreaks, chemical and radiation exposure incidents, terrorist bombings in London, natural disasters, and humanitarian civil conflicts.  Dr. Morgan also holds a doctorate in epidemiology from Imperial College London.

Oliver will be interviewed by Connie St Louis on health emergencies in the in Conversation session at 16:00

Oliver Morgan
In conversation: Connie St Louis

Connie St Louis is a freelance journalist and writer. She was previously the director of the Science Journalism and Erasmus Mundus masters programmes at City University, London. Prior to that she worked as a senior producer and presenter for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service for sixteen years.

Dilanthi Amaratunga, Professor of Disaster Risk Management

Dilanthi Amaratunga is a Professor of Disaster Risk Management at the University of Huddersfield, UK with 27 years of experience in the higher education sector. She is a leading expert in disaster resilience with an international reputation.She currently leads the Global Disaster Resilience Centre, a global leader in interdisciplinary research, education and advocacy to improve the resilience of nations and communities at the University of Huddersfield. Prior to joining the University of Huddersfield in 2014, she was at the University of Salford since 1997, starting out as a PhD research scholar. Within a span of 5 years, she progressed from being a lecturer to a full Professor at the University of Salford in 2006.

She has project managed to successful completion  a large number of international research projects generating significant research outputs. She has secured a number of significant, high profile grants including EC funded ASCENT (Advancing Skill Creation to ENhance Transformation) with 16 international partners, CADRE and CASCADE. ASCENT aims to address R&I capacity strengthening for the development of societal resilience to disasters. In January 2014, she was invited by the European Commission to formally launch their Horizon 2020: the new EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation in South Asia.

Among several other leadership roles, she is the Chair of the United Nations Working Group on Words into action on Accountability and Governance. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the UNISDR "Making Cities Resilient" Campaign. Her outstanding contributions, publications and services to the disaster resilience and management have been recognised with numerous international awards and prizes.

At the UCL IRDR 9th Annual Conference, Dilanthi will be discussing "Early Warning Systems in the context of interconnected hazards and multihazards", in the session on "interconnected hazards and the built environment: assessment and modelling"

Dina D'Ayala, Professor of Civil Engineering, UCL

Professor Dina D'Ayala is Head of Civil Engineering and Co-director of the EPICentre research centre.  She is a structural engineer with a humanities background and her research focus on resilience of structures and infrastructure to natural hazards. She has 25 years’ experience working with international agencies in countries such as Nepal, Jordan, Turkey and Philippines, and has produced Guidelines for DfID and World Bank on resilience of hospital and school infrastructure.  She is joint editor of the Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering and Director of the International Association of Earthquake Engineering.
Dina leads the PRISMH (Philippines Resilience of schools to multihazard) project. This British Council funded project has co-investigators Dr Carmine Galasso (UCL EPICentre) and Dr Joanna Faure Walker (UCL IRDR), with partners from De La Salle University and Xavier University in the Philippines. The project aims to develop an advanced resilience assessment framework for school infrastructure subjected to multiple natural hazards in the Philippines. The project investigates the effectiveness of buildings retrofit measures and social preparedness measures as means of preventing casualties, reducing economic losses and maintaining functionality of the school infrastructure and its role within the community in the event of natural disasters. In particular the project addresses risks from seismic, wind and flood hazards. The resilience assessment protocol will be used by civil protection and school authorities to improve their preparedness and implementation. 

At the UCL IRDR 9th Annual Conference, Dina will speak in the session on "interconnected hazards and the built environment: assessment and modelling".

Dina Dayala

Agnes is the EPRR & BC Training and Exercise Manager for the London Region of NHS-E, while on her secondment. Previously she worked for Public Health England's Office for London as an Emergency Preparedness Manager. Prior to that she was a member of PHE’s National EPRR Team, and also worked for the Suffolk Joint Emergency Planning Unit.