Cascading and Interconnected Risk at the UCL IRDR Annual Conference
Newsletter - May 2019
The  2019 UCL IRDR Ninth Annual Conference, on Wednesday 19 June, will focus on Cascading and Interconnected Risk.  The  keynote address will be by Lord Toby Harris who led the Independent Review of London on London’s Preparedness to Respond to a Major Terrorist Incident for the Mayor of London. The Annual Conference again promises to be a lively mix of discussions around contentious issues and new developments, and is open to the UCL community, our partners, NGOs, business and the interested general public. There will be a special reception for IRDR masters students applicants.

The UCL Humanitarian Summit, on Tuesday 18 June, will cover: Gender, Conflict and Resilience; Working in Challenging Environments; Digital Public Health; Humanitarian Teaching Forum on the new UCL Humanitarian degree programme, launching in 2021. The Summit aims to stimulate UCL’s engagement in humanitarian issues and map out the direction for the development of the Humanitarian Institute. The whole UCL community, staff and students, are welcome to join us.
Both events will be held at UCL and are free and open to all, but registration is required (see panel for Events).

New appointments: We are delighted to announce that Dr Bayes Ahmed has been appointed as a lecturer in Risk and Disaster Science and Dr Akhtar Alam has been appointed as a research fellow in Conflict, Disaster and Migration. Dr Ahmed was previously a research fellow in UCL IRDR and Humanitarian Institute and Dr Alam joins us from the University of Kashmir. Kathinka Evertsen and Agnese Turchi have joined us as visitors.

Peter Sammonds
Director, UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction
  • Prof Peter Sammonds and Dr Bayes Ahmed have been awarded £500k by the Royal Society for a Resilient Futures Challenge-Led Grant entitled "Resilient Futures for the Rohingya Refugees" for the period April 2019 until September 2021. More details here.
UCL IRDR hosts its 2019 Spring Academy
We complete plenty of complex science, but then what? How do we publish, communicate, and promote our work? “Comms Proms” was the theme of this year’s IRDR Spring Academy, a two-day retreat held at Horwood Estate near Milton Keynes. Taking inspiration from the British classical music tradition, we examined, discussed, and explored how we communicate our science, internally and externally, to scientists and to non-scientists.
We started by depicting our research via table-top sculptures of classroom materials including playdough, paper, and pipe cleaners. Then, we discussed how and why we disseminate our research, from the 80,000-word erudite academic monograph to a 100-word blog and even shorter on social media. Other sessions covered anxiety in presenting and writing, examples of science communication to the public, and an action plan for IRDR to follow.
This work and the exercises will hopefully give us creative ideas for improving our communications, whether in a packed concert hall or one-on-one with peers and family.
Arctic Triumph 
The Arctic is often depicted as a region of danger, risk, catastrophe, and doom. IRDR staff member Ilan Kelman joined with researchers Nikolas Sellheim in Finland and Yuliya Zaika in Russia to explore the positive side of the Arctic through a new book they edited called Arctic Triumph. The Arctic is changing with major negative consequences—but it is also changing in good ways. As the chapters show, the negative developments of the past have presented positive effects on the contemporary Arctic which are to be celebrated, emulated, pushed forward, and improved.
This book approaches the challenges the Arctic has faced and is facing through a lens of opportunity. The chapter authors depict the Arctic as a region of enduring and thriving change despite, possibly because of, challenges. While not neglecting the ongoing (potentially) disastrous processes in the north, this book shifts from perceiving the “Arctic of disaster” to an “Arctic of triumph”—even when Arctic triumph and disaster intersect. The material shows how a more positive approach towards the Arctic will benefit not only us as human beings, but also the world as a whole.
Arctic Triumph is available here
Dr. Gianluca Pescaroli, IRDR academic staff member, has been included in the editorial board of the new peer-reviewed ‘’Journal of Infrastructure Preservation and Resilience”, published by Springer Open. The journal  is cross-disciplinary and aims to facilitate the dialogue  between infrastructure engineering community and resilience and risk management community. Topics of interest for publication include Infrastructure system response and resilience, adaptation to climate extremes, decision support and management, risk assessment. Outstanding manuscripts will have the option of waived publication fees. A full description of the topics and submission process is available at
Natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, floods and storms destroy lives and damage economies across the globe; pandemics have the potential to bring death and suffering on an unprecedented scale; while climate change may increase the severity of both natural and health disasters.

How society sees risk, how to link understanding of the causative mechanics to statistical approaches, and how to increase resilience and reduce the risk of disasters are common themes cutting across research in natural, environmental, health and technological hazards.

Reducing global risks and disasters presents a colossal challenge that requires coordinated and collaborative action.
UCL is uniquely well-placed to lead research and teaching in risk and disaster reduction, with at least 70 academics across 12 departments and seven faculties involved in world-class research and practice in the field.

To maximise the impact and value of our activities in risk and disaster reduction, and to increase and enhance interdisciplinary collaboration and cooperation, we aim to bring together individual areas of expertise, under the umbrella of a UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction, built around established centres across UCL.
We also seek to contribute to the UCL Grand Challenges of Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.
Reducing global risks and disasters presents a colossal challenge that requires coordinated and collaborative action. UCL is uniquely well placed to lead research in risk and disaster reduction, with at least 70 academics across 12 departments and 7 faculties involved in world-class research, teaching and practice in the field. The Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, responding to the UCL Grand Challenges, brings together this wealth of knowledge and expertise, and through research, teaching and knowledge exchange aims to overcome the barriers to understanding risk and reducing the impact of disasters.

To find out more about risk and disaster reduction research at UCL - or to register your own activity - please visit Our Page. Here you have the option to stay involved through different mailing lists, and to become a member of the Institute.
IRDR Ninth Annual Conference
Wednesday 19th June, 09:00 - 20:00
UCL Darwin Lecture Theatre and South Cloisters
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. Session themes will include complex, cascading and extreme disasters; assessment and modelling of multi and interconnected hazards in the built environment; and health emergencies. Lord Toby Harris will deliver a Keynote address on “Hoping for the best is not a sufficient response if we are expecting the worst”. Call for abstracts for poster presentations on, “Assessing and reducing risk from single, multiple and interconnected hazards.” is now open, deadline 24th May. Full event details and registration link here.
Humanitarian Summit
Tuesday 18th June 2019, 09:00 - 17:00
UCL Roberts Building G06 and Foyer
The UCL Humanitarian Institute, which currently operates from within the IRDR, will host its third Humanitarian Summit on 18 June.  We invite the UCL community, our partners, collaborators and others with humanitarian interests to join us. The event will include panel discussions on “Gender DRR and Conflict” and “Working in challenging environments and conflict zones”, a workshop on digital public health, and a humanitarian teaching forum. Full event programme and registration details here.
International Conference on the Rohingya Crisis in Comparative Perspective
4-5 July 2019, UCL Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre
This conference is jointly organised by UCL IRDR and UCL Centre for Collective Violence. At this conference, we aim to understand the root causes of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, the drivers of Rohingya influx into Bangladesh, Rohingya diaspora and their adaptation strategies in host countries, and the overall implications for security and peace in South Asia. This conference is free to attend but you need to register. Full details here.
UCL Space Week, 13-17 May
Seminar III will be on 'Space Serving Humanity: Disaster Prevention and Management', on Tuesday 14th May, 2-5pm, Charles Clore House, 17 Russel Square. Full space week details here.
UK Alliance for Disaster Research Annual Conference
17-19 July 2019, Northumbria University.
This year the UKADR Conference combines with the Dealing with Disasters (DwD) Series, the UK Disasters Research Group (DRG) and the UK Collaborative for Development Research (UKCDR) in association with the resilience portfolio of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). Further details here
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