We would like to hear your views on the draft Global Risk Agenda.

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The emerging global risk landscape of a varying pandemic, climate change, social and financial crises, inequalities and vulnerabilities, pose new challenges for disaster risk reduction (DRR). The trend is for more severe and complex risks with cascading and systemic impacts. Rapid political, social and technological developments in addition to climate change are also contributing to this shifting risk landscape.

In this context, the International Science Council (ISC) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), with support from the Scientific Committee of Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), have set up a process to develop a global Agenda for risk science, that is informed and shaped by multiple perspectives to guide international research, scientific collaboration and funding to strengthen the impact of science on risk management and risk reduction.

As part of the Agenda development process, the ISC and UNDRR have launched a consultation process with the science community and other stakeholders to identify key directions for risk science in the next decade. Co-chair of the process, Professor John Handmer (RMIT, Australia) explained:

“Our ambition for this agenda is to see disaster risk reduction as a broad concept working collaboratively across sectors, disciplines and sources of knowledge – to reduce vulnerabilities and all types of risks. By focusing the combined knowledge of science and other sources with the experience of practice, we should be able to start to resolve the seemingly intractable problems confronting humanity and our planet.”

Professor John Handmer

We would like to hear your views

The Agenda development process aims to engage with the DRR community but also a much wider range of actors, cognizant of the broadened scope of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and related risk and resilience discussions under the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and other global agreements.

The Risk Agenda currently proposes the research ‘priority areas’ outlined in Box 1, as crosscutting themes to guide research on global risk over the next decade and beyond.

Box 1: Draft Science Agenda themes

1. Understanding risk creation and perpetuation: systemic, cascading and complex risks

How can research inspire better work to understand the complex interconnections of systemic, compound and cascading risks and impacts, and their connections with vulnerability and exposure. 

2. Addressing inequalities, injustices and marginalization

How can risk science and knowledge support the most marginalised people and communities to ensure that “no one is left behind”, as part of ensuring inclusive justice and equity across humanity?   

3. Enable transformative governance and action to reduce risk

Risk reduction, climate adaptation and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals are intrinsically linked – how can transdisciplinary science and knowledge transform access to and participation in governance structures and actions to reduce disaster risk?

4. Measurement to help drive progress

What do we need to measure and how can measurement be designed to incentivize improved risk knowledge and risk reduction?

5. Understanding the implications of new thinking on hazards

How can we best identify and understand new forms and newly common extreme forms of hazards; as well as their intersection with vulnerabilities and other hazards?

6. Harness technologies, innovations, data and knowledge for risk reduction

What factors impede and what support emerging technologies in achieving their promise of risk reduction – rather than risk creation and shifting; and how can the technologies be better used to support the SDGs and risk reduction?

This theme seeks to inspire research that takes the opportunities to maximize positive impact.

7. Foster multi-stakeholder collaboration for solutions to risk challenges

Why is so much science knowledge unused? There are many areas where it is well applied which could provide starting points for learning and change.

8. Support regional and national science and knowledge for policy and action

What are the distinctive research priorities of different global regions? Regions have distinctive mixes of hazards, exposures and vulnerabilities, which are influenced by complex interdependencies, capacities and governance structures.

As a member or partner of the ISC, you have valuable insights into how this broadened scope can be addressed, and we would value receiving your views on the draft agenda document.

As Professor Coleen Vogel (WITs University, South Africa) highlights:

“As we make our way through the COVID pandemic the structural drivers that shape vulnerabilities remain ever more pressing. The ‘persistent’ drivers of risk surface repeatedly under the glare of the pandemic. We really do need to urgently get to the ‘heart of the matter’, mobilizing our resources for personal, political and structural transformations. This collective effort is now, more than ever, needed with science working with society to better understood complex, risk landscapes and design appropriate interventions”.

The survey aims to collect feedback and inputs on the Draft Science Agenda. It is therefore essential that survey respondents read the draft before answering the questions. The survey is composed of 10 open questions. The survey will close on 5 May 2021.

The development of the Agenda is led by Prof. John Handmer (Emeritus Professor, RMIT University, Australia and member of the scientific committee of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk program), Prof. Coleen Vogel (Distinguished Professor, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa) and Dr Ben Payne (Lead Scientific Officer, Risk Research-Agenda Development Group and researcher, Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University, New Zealand), and a core group of experts.

Core group members

Michael BoylandStockholm Environment Institute, Thailand and IRDR International Centre of Excellence on Transforming Development and Disaster Risk
Alonso Brenes TorresProgram on Social Studies on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change, Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), Costa Rica and IRDR Scientific Committee member
Joyce CoffeeClimate Resilience Consulting, United States
Chloe DemrovskyDisaster Recovery Institute International  
Riyanti DjalanteUnited Nations University – Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), Japan and Chair of the IRDR Scientific Committee
Marc GordonGlobal Risk Analysis and Reporting, UNDRR
Qunli HanInternational Program Office of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), China
Jenty Kirsch-WoodGlobal Risk Analysis and Reporting, UNDRR
Wei-sen LiNational Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction, China-Taipei and IRDR Scientific Committee member
Mahefasoa RandrianalijaonaFaculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Antananarivo, Madagascar and IRDR Scientific Committee member
Jana SillmannCenter for International Climate Research Oslo (CICERO), Norway and co-chair of the Risk Knowledge Action Network and IRDR Scientific Committee member
Mark Stafford SmithCSIRO Land & Water, Australia
Anne-Sophie StevanceInternational Science Council (ISC), France
Juanle WangInstitute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, and Member of Scientific Committee of the ISC World Data System

Anne-Sophie Stevance

Senior Science Officer

Image by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (CC BY 2.0)


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