Meeting summary: Next steps in global risk research

Qian Ye, Executive Director of IRG, speaks during the project's annual meeting in Beijing. Photo: Hideyuki Mohri
Read a summary of a recent meeting of the Integrated Risk Governance Project (IRG), which generates research on the risks to human societies from climate change impacts and other threats.

The Integrated Risk Governance Project (IRG) together with Beijing Normal University co-organised a Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) workshop in Beijing from 7 to 8 December 2018. The event also focused on Beijing Normal University’s “111 Project.” During the workshop, participants discussed recent activities and future directions around research on risk, such as from severe weather events and drought. IRG is a global research project of Future Earth.

Dr. Carlo Jaeger, a Co-chair of IRG, delivered the opening remarks, welcoming the participants to the meeting. He was followed by Dr. Qian Ye, Executive Director of IRG, who presented the project’s achievements in 2017 and plans for the next year. Activities in 2017 mainly revolved around four categories: events, education, research and the International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, which is published by IRG. In 2016, the journal had an impact factor of 1.222, and researchers submitted approximately 300 manuscripts in 2017.

2017 activities included:

  • Shenzhen Disaster Risk Forum, 13-15 May 2017;
  • Croucher Summer Course at Hong Kong Chinese University, 3-6 July 2017;
  • The Honk Kong Polytechnic University for BaRI, 14 October 2017;
  • Launch of a BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) country cooperation project, 2017-2020;

Proposed activities for 2018 include:

  • Second IRG Scientific Steering Committee meeting on Systemic Risks, Germany, early 2018
  • Special issue of Integrated Journal of Disaster Risk Science
  • ASTAG conference, Beijing, 17-18 April 2018
  • Experience and Lessons Learned from Great Wenchuan Earthquake, co-organised with United Nations Development Programme at UN Headquarters, New York, 12 May 2018
  • Summer training course, 2018
  • Developing Meteorological Disaster Risks Standard Initiative from World Meteorological Organization, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), SwissRe
  • Belt and Road Initiative Research Project and Workshop, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, October 2018

Prof. Hirokazu Tatano presented recent activities from the Global Alliance of Disaster Research Institutes (GADRI) and discussed possible future cooperation with IRG. Hideyuki Mohri introduced Future Earth and the newly developed Emergent Risks and Extreme Events Knowledge-Action Network.

The open discussion during the first day was around IRG’s plans for next year and also the future directions of the project. IRG will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2018. Jaeger insisted that one of the biggest assets of the project is its journal, and IRG should consider expanding its possibilities. That could include producing special issues that link to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or to other themes in sustainability science. He also suggested the IRG vision should evolve from a more conventional approach to risk management toward and more systemic approach. Prof. Peijun Shi, a Co-chair of IRG, suggested that the project’s future activities should focus on risk assessment at the global level and on three priorities in particular: Earth system, policy and socio-economic themes. He also introduced five principles of Chinese development: coordination, sharing, green, innovation and openness, which can also be applied to IRG’s principles.

At the start of the workshop’s second day, Dr. Guoyi Han, a Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden, introduced a 10-year programme on the Hazard and Risk Science Base (HRSB) at Beijing Normal University (2008-2017). This programme, which is called the “111 Project,” focused on the human and social dimensions of disaster risk in China. Five researchers from Beijing Normal University also presented their research results on disaster risk under following specific topics: Economics (Dr. Jidong Wu), trade (Dr. Saini Yang), population (Dr. Wei Xu), urbanisation (Dr. Qingxu Huang) and land use by (Dr. Deyong Yu).

In the final session, Dr. Michael Glantz from the University of Colorado discussed the Belt and Road Initiative, also known as One Belt One Road (OBOR), and its impacts on various sectors. Dr. Diana Mangalagiu from the University of Oxford emphasised that while IRG should continue to pursue long-term efforts like the “111 Project,” it should also develop more concrete activities, such as a joint research project with partners from the European Union.

Prof. Shi announced new plans for the coming years, including:

  • Setting up a new centre for international research on disaster risk reduction in Zhuhai, which will employ both international and local researchers;
  • Developing international cooperative research projects;
  • Developing a new education and training programme.

Members of IRG’s Scientific Steering Committee proposed making the above-mentioned centre into a “field campus.” Dr. Qian mentioned that such a centre could serve as a Risk Knowledge-Action Network Campus that would collect case studies and best practices related to disaster risks.

Finally, co-chairs Dr. Jaeger and Dr. Shi concluded the workshop by thanking all of the participants for the active and constructive discussion. They also expressed their best wishes for the future of IRG and closer collaboration with Future Earth.