The 14th IRDR Scientific Committee meeting gathered disaster risk experts from 14 countries on 4 continents at Stellenbosch University in South Africa from 16-18 November. This was the first time the Scientific Committee had met outside China or Europe. SC14 was hosted by RADAR, the secretariat for Periperi U – the IRDR ICoE in Risk Education and Learning (ICoE REaL).
Shuaib Lwasa was confirmed as the new chair of IRDR’s Scientific Committee succeeding outgoing chair David Johnston who completed his term. Susan Cutter, Omar Dario Cardona, and Kuniyoshi Takeuchi also successfully completed their terms. Five new members of the Scientific Committee were announced.
The new members are:
- From China – Peng CUI, water and soil conservation, of CAS’s Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment
- From Rwanda – Claudine UWERA, environmental economics, College of Business & Economics, U of Rwanda
- From Australia – John HANDMER, geospatial science, of the Centre for Risk & Community Safety, RMIT University
- From Japan – Haruo HAYASHI, psychology, Science Council of Japan
- From the UK – Virginia MURRAY, occupational medicine, Public Health England
On the first day SC members and ex officios worked on internal IRDR business. The second day included reports from IRDR’s Research Working Groups (e.g., DATA, AIRDR, RIA, FORIN), all eight International Centres of Excellence and many of the 10 National Committees.
The third day focused on Africa with speakers from across the continent discussing its challenges and strategies for increasing attention and implementation of DRR strategies. Other speakers included Jens Pedersen, a medical humanitarian worker with Medecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), who spoke about “Ebola in West Africa – implications for integrated risk science” and Prof Coleen Vogel, a climatologist at the University of the Witwatersrand who discussed “Climate and weather risks: science-policy-practice Interface (COP 21, El Nino)”. The last half of the day honed in on South Africa with representatives from university disaster management programmes, government sponsored research agencies and local government. They spoke about curriculum, coordination, and research.