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Sustainability Science

University of Southampton Academics Contribute to UK Government Foresight Report: Reducing the Risk of Future Disasters

Published: 27 November 2012
Sustainability Science News

Today the UK government released their highly anticipated foresight report into “Reducing the Risk of Future Disasters”. This report, led by the UK government’s chief scientific advisor, Sir John Beddington, looks at disasters in developing countries that have resulted from natural hazards.

The project has been guided by a group of experts , including Dr Emma Tompkins , Co-chair of Sustainability Science at Southampton USRG, Professor Peter M. Atkinson , Professor Michael J. Clark, Dr Hugh G. Lewis , Andrew Murdock and Julia Branson at the University of Southampton.

The aim has been to ‘provide an independent look at the latest science and evidence, and its role in disaster risk reduction (DRR), so that the diverse impacts of future disasters can be effectively reduced, both around the time of the events and in the longer term. '

The work looks out to 2040 and takes a broad and independent view. It investigates how science and evidence could help in understanding evolving future disaster risks, how those risks may be better anticipated and the practical actions that could be taken in risk reduction.

Whilst achieving the correct response to such disasters is critical, so too is forecasting events and planning to minimize their impact. Today, there are more people at risk from natural hazards than ever before, with those in developing countries particularly at risk. The report identified three key future drivers of disaster risk: global environmental change, demographic change and urbanisation. Its findings will help UK and international policy-makers navigate a challenging and uncertain future.

" Science tells us why disasters happen and where many of the risks lie, and for some disasters we can even forecast when they will occur... The key message is that disaster and death are not the inevitable consequence of greater exposure to hazards. It is possible to stabilise disaster impacts, save lives and protect livelihoods ." Professor Sir John Beddington CMG, FRS

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