Towards better integration of science in resilience building

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Geological Survey
Department Name: Earth Hazards & Observatories


The great potential that science offers to resilience building and disaster risk reduction is widely acknowledged. However, there are numerous instances where the research does not achieve its intended impact. The aim of this project is to ensure the impact of the IRNH programme and its consortia and their findings, on increasing resilience. To do this, I will focus on key parts of the resilience-building process that relate to policy and practice. In terms of policy, this is the Hyogo Framework for Action and its successor, and the UN cluster approach for humanitarian response. In terms of practice, I will focus on maximising research impact in the humanitarian sector (international NGOs and key donors), and the private sector. I will also ensure that the findings of the IRNH programme, its consortia and this fellowship inform and influence decision-making within international scientific bodies.

The project is designed to maximise the impact of the IRNH programme and its consortia's findings, using a range of knowledge exchange approaches. These include participating in key meetings and policy processes during the course of the project, using training courses as a vehicle for integrating the consortia's findings into operational decision-making in humanitarian organisations, influencing bilateral/multilateral donor policy and their guidance on using scientific information, disseminating key findings from the IRNH programme and its consortia to the private sector through mechanisms like the PURE network, disseminating findings to international scientific bodies and influencing their policy, and brokering relationships and partnerships between EwF /STREVA scientists and key actors in resilience building.

Initially the focus of my activities will be Nepal (EwF) and Colombia (STREVA). As the fellowship progresses, I will expand my activities and apply what is learned more widely in each of the consortia. This approach acknowledges the evolution of the consortia during the fellowship and that there will be a growing body of research findings. Equally, there are important external events during the lifetime of the project like the post-HFA consultation process, and the implementation of the HFA's successor and the project's design reflects this. Therefore my approach reflects both the changing policy landscape and the progress of the consortia's research.

I will use a range of tools to monitor and evaluate the project, to assess scientific impact on policy and practice, and to measure success. This part of my work will benefit from my excellent links with the Overseas Development Institute, and the expertise within the different groups within it. The project builds on what I have already achieved during my previous knowledge exchange fellowship. It benefits significantly from my having worked successfully with humanitarian organisations to increase the impact of science on their decision-making. The project and its potential for success is also greatly enhanced by my participation in Earthquakes without Frontiers as a co-I. In EwF, I work at the research-policy interface and on transdisciplinary aspects of the project, and have already made significant progress since the start of the project. I also have excellent links with STREVA.

The project design is informed by discussions with numerous IRNH stakeholders and the broad structure is well-defined. However, I will take a flexible approach in order to respond to the consortia's evolving needs, and to the wider policy context. I intend to work closely throughout with the other IRNH KE Fellow that is appointed. At the start of the project, I will work with them to ensure that the two projects are complementary, and to minimise any duplication of effort, identify ways in which our combined expertise might be used creatively or where activities can be shared. Frequent, regular contact between the fellows (either remotely or face-to-face) is vital.
Description This knowledge exchange project builds on what I did in my previous fellowship (NE/J500537/1). The focus of my work so far has been to broaden my experience how science is used in decision making by other groups besides humanitarian and development NGOs. Notable achievements since the start of the project include:
1. Gaining experience of how science is used in policy-making at the global level. For example: by contributing to consultations on the use of science in disaster risk reduction (at the April 2013 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), the UK consultation for the post-2015 DRR framework in Nov 2012, providing feedback on the proposed International Science Advisory Mechanism - Aug 2014 and finding opportunities for researchers in the Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards programme to contribute to the process (e.g. collecting feedback on the zero draft of the post-2015 framework for DRR, which will help to influence the statements made by the Science and Technology major group at a major UN meeting in Nov 2014).
2. Working with the other IRNH fellow to broker relationships between the STREVA project and key stakeholders in Colombia, and gather information that enabled the STREVA researchers to refine their research objectives here, and to hold a workshop that brought these stakeholders together to discuss the impact of past volcanic events and what might happen in future.
3. Working with physical and social science researchers from Earthquakes without Frontiers in Nepal to explore how science is used in decision making for disaster risk reduction. This has now been published as an ODI Working Paper
4. Facilitating regular workshops for the EwF and STREVA researchers on themes of shared interest (e.g. Working with communities and decision makers without recent hazard experience - July 2014)
Notable achievements between Nov 2014 and March 2015 include:
1. A joint EwF-STREVA workshop on Challenging the Risk = Hazard x Vulnerability paradigm. This brought physical and social scientists together to discuss whether the paradigm reflects the true nature of risk from natural hazards and its complexity.
2. I've continued to engage with the science-disaster risk reduction discussions at the global level. I am currently working with researchers at the Overseas Development Institute to document and reflect on the transdisciplinary research process that EwF is adopting. I presesented our preliminary results at the UNISDR Science and Technnology Conference in Geneva in January 2016. I have also participated in other discussions on the implementation of the science elements of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (e.g. Royal Society, June 2015). I have also written a paper with a political scientist from the US that reflects on recent recommendations on the use of science in DRR. This is in a Special Volume on Geoscience for the Public Good, published by the Geological Society of America. It will help to raise awareness amongst geoscientists of the way in which science is used in DRR in practice.
Notable achievements between April 2015 - March 2019
1. Being involved in the development of the UK Alliance for Disaster Research (UKADR) and now being a member of the UKADR Interim Steering Committee
2. Developing my collaboration with CARE International UK, which had led to the development of a successful GCRF Building Resilience proposal on promoting safer building after disasters
3. A successful proposal to the Geological Society for a conference on Building Resilience to Geohazards in the Face of Uncertainty as part of their 2017 Year of Risk events
4. A workshop on learning for the Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards programme. This included presentations by people from a humanitarian organisation and a catastrophe modelling company. This gave the participants an opportunity to reflect on their individual exeriences of learning, learning from past disasters and transferring learning between countries and contects, and moving from learning to behaviour change.
5. Participating in a UNISDR conference on implementing the science elements of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Notable achievements between April 2017 - March 2018: 1) The Building Resilience to Geohazards in the Face of Uncertainty conference at the Geological Society (Sept 2017), which brought together researchers fom the physical sciences, arts and humanities (including researchers from the IRNH and IRNHiC programmes) together with humanitarian practitioners, government staff and people working on disaster-related activities in the Caribbean and Nepal.
6. Paper accepted to the 2019 UNISDR Global Assessment Report on 'Experiences of challenge-led research in earthquake-prone and volcanic regions' (Sargeant, S., Hicks, A., Sammonds, P. and Sword Daniels, V.). This provides some reflections on what has been achieved and what has been learned during the IRNH programme about challenge-led interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research that aims to support disaster risk reduction (DRR) and contribute to resilience-building processes. The reflections are based on interviews with many of the researchers involved in the programme and some of the local partners.
Exploitation Route The outcomes of my work so far are informing the research being carried out by the two projects and will inform my future knowledge activities. My activities and findings may potentially be put to use by scientific organisations, researchers and funders, humanitarian and development organisations, policy makers, and the private sector. For example, I gave a keynote presentation at the annual meeting of COMET+ (Centre for the Observation and Monitoring of Earthquakes, Tectonics and Volcanoes), giving my views on how earthquake science can have an impact on resilience where I highlighted the key considerations that have emerged from my work on this area. I hope hearing about my experiences will influence how others develop their own work in this area.The GAR is read by a wide global audience (i.e. governments, NGOs, private sector, UN, etc.) and we have written the paper with this in mind with recommendations for how to make challenge-led research effective, which we hope will be of use to these groups.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

Description As a knowledge exchange project, achieving impact is my focus and much of what I've achieved so far is outlined under Key Findings
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Other
Impact Types Societal

Description CARE International UK 
Organisation Care International UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This collaboration has developed following two guest lectures that I gave to the Shelter After Disaster (SAD) course at Oxford Brookes University as part of this award. One of the SAD course leaders is now Senior Shelter Advisor at CARE International UK. I was able to maintain contact by going to the UK Shelter Forum meetings and then invited him to give a talk and participate in a workshop that I organised for the Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards programme as part of this award in 2016. This led to us collaborating on a GCRF proposal, which has been funded and our joint research (with partners from ODI and UCL) is underway.
Collaborator Contribution Participating in an IRNH programme workshop, leading development of consortium proposal,
Impact GCRF Resilience Foundation Award - Promoting Safer Building - using science, technology, communication and humanitarian practice to support family and community self-recovery. Multi-disciplinary: Earth science, Engineering, Architecture, Social science, Humanitarian practice
Start Year 2016
Description Keynote presentation at the COMET+ (Centre for Observation and Monitoring of Earthquakes, Tectonics and Volcanoes) annual meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact I was invited to give a talk about my views on how earthquake science can contribute to resilience building at the 2017 COMET+ annual meeting. My talk drew on all my experiences of working at the interface between science and decision making. It was attended by around 100 people and sparked a lot of discussion about how scientists can contribute to resilience building, and what that means for COMET+.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Talk for Geological Society Careers Day 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact I spoke about my work on this project as part of a presentation at the Geological Society's careers event in November 2017. A number of students contacted me afterwards who are keen to work in geohazards and in resilience-related activities and I provided advice on possible careers paths and people to contact.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017