Monday, December 24, 2012

Science key to reducing impacts of future natural hazards in developing countries

University of Cambridge Enterprise: The use of science to reduce the effects of future natural hazards such as floods, droughts and earthquakes must be stepped up and adopted more widely, according to a newly published Foresight report.

The report, 'Reducing Risks of Future Disasters: Priorities for Decision Makers' sets out how the threat of future disasters resulting from natural hazards can be stabilised if decision makers make better use of technological developments and existing risk assessment methods. This will save lives, livelihoods and resources in developing countries.

The report also urges that disaster risk reduction is routinely built in to developments as diverse as urban infrastructure, ecosystem protection and mobile telephone regulation. These measures would help reduce the cost of disasters, which has outstripped the total international aid investment over the past 20 years and has led to the loss of 1.3 million lives and $2 trillion of damage.

Professor Peter Guthrie, Thalia Konaris and former PhD student Faye Karababa, all from the Department of Engineering, have been involved in the report. The work was undertaken through Consultancy Services at Cambridge Enterprise.

“Death and destruction are not the inevitable consequences of natural hazards,” said Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir John Beddington, who led the research. “We need to grasp this. Urbanisation over the next three decades, particularly in Africa and Asia, will continue. While this could lead to greater exposure and vulnerability, it also presents the greatest opportunity to protect large concentrations of people....

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