A generational opportunity to reduce disaster risk for world's urban poor
Rapid urbanisation presents a time-limited global opportunity to embed disaster risk management in urban development. Research and policy teams in Kathmandu, Istanbul, Nairobi and Quito will join UK and international scientists, civil society groups and a range of UN agencies in a 5-year research drive to reduce disaster risk for the poorest people in tomorrow’s cities. The Urban Disaster Risk Hub will enhance sustainable urban development and catalyse a transition from crisis management to far-sighted, risk-informed urban planning and decision-making.
Cities are home to 55% of the global population and account for 70% of global GDP. More than two billion people living in cities in low and middle-income countries are exposed to floods, earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes and cyclones, and this figure is expected to double by 2050. But 60% of the area expected to be urban by 2030 is yet to be built. This historically unprecedented urbanisation, often considered only as a threat, also provides a time-limited opportunity to plan disaster risk out of tomorrow’s cities.
The UKRI GCRF Urban Disaster Risk Hub is designed to reinforce existing initiatives in the partner cities. It will analyse the social and political drivers of urban disaster risk and develop a precisely targeted suite of decision-support tools to help planners examine the consequences of different development choices. Bringing together leading researchers with inspiring community and government leaders, it will work at an unprecedented scale to deliver real impact through interdisciplinary research.
Underpinning this vital work will be the Hub's research data store, to be built by EPCC. We will also develop standardised processes for managing and accessing the Hub's complex resources. Our existing roles within the World Class Data Infrastructure and the Data-Driven Innovation Programme will create synergy across all these data-based partnerships: we have extensive experience of making data both secure and accessible, and will work with our Hub partners to share our knowledge of handling data resources.
“Risk is normally estimated at large scales, generally not well suited to urban development decision making. We are dedicated to making precise estimates of risk at the scale of planning decisions to expose the implications of different development options. We will help urban planners understand the future consequences of their current choices. Historical compromises need not be repeated. The GCRF Hub provides a generational opportunity to change the future for the poor in tomorrow’s cities.” Prof. John McCloskey (University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences), Hub Director
This £19.6 million initiative, led by the University of Edinburgh, is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through its Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
Full announcement: New Global Research Hubs to tackle complex development challenges