Knowledge Management for Disaster Risk Reduction

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  • 2015•01•30     Bonn

    Against the background of the upcoming UN Third World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, UNU-EHS hosted a workshop on decision making and knowledge management in disaster risk reduction (DRR). This workshop was conducted within the frame of the KNOW-4-DRR project (Enabling knowledge for DRR in integration to climate change adaptation), funded by the European Commission and coordinated by the Politecnico di Milano. The 11 project partners represent 7 countries with a European focus and deal with DRR from different perspectives, ranging from science to practitioners and professional communicators. The overall aim of the project is to contribute to an improved use of knowledge and co-operation among the different actors in the field of DRR and climate change adaptation (CCA).

    The international workshop took place from the 10-11 of December 2014 and elaborated on the issues of decision making processes in DRR and CCA, with a focus on flood risk management. Knowledge on DRR and CCA is often fragmented between different stakeholders and hence sometimes does not get incorporated into decision measures. This has been identified as a major reason why even though knowledge in these fields has increased it is not effectively being used to minimize losses caused by disasters. The workshop brought together 42 experts who represented a balance between scientists and practitioners from 11 countries, predominantly Europe. Professor Scira Menoni from the Politecnico di Milano introduced to the framework of the project as being the main coordinator. The keynote speeches were given by decision makers from the global, European, national and local levels. Professor Dr. Virginia Murray, Vice-chair of the UNISDR Science and Technical Advisory Group (STAG), kicked-off the speeches, by highlighting the need for knowledge management from a global perspective. The European perspective was represented by the co-chairman of the EU working group on floods, Mark Adamson, who provided a unique insight into how EU policy implementation occurs at both national and local levels. This downscaling approach was complemented by a national and local perspective on decision making in flood risk management in Germany. To help participants obtain a hands-on perspective, a flood risk management role-play simulation was conducted during the second half of the day.

    On the following day of the workshop topics ranging from lessons learnt during the Elbe flood events in 2002 and 2013 to a multi-scale DRR negotiation and decision making tool for stakeholders in the region of the Southern French Alps (PACA), as well as flood risk management strategies in Poland were discussed. The workshop closed with a forward-looking perspective coming from a panel discussion on the implementation of CCA in flood risk management, moderated by Mr. Axel Rottländer from the German Committee for Disaster Reduction (DKKV). The six selected panelists from five different countries represented a broad field of expertise ranging from civil protection experts, scientists in flood risk management and meteorological weather forecasting, and information providers. Panelists concluded that knowledge fragmentation can be overcome by increasing capacity building, awareness raising, stakeholder communication, the creation of a common jargon, and recognizing climate change uncertainty. The panel stimulated a lively discussion about decision making perspectives from the individual level and the political one.

    This workshop was directed by Dr. Jörg Szarzynski, Head of the Enhancing Graduate Educational Capacities for Human Security Section (EGECHS) at UNU-EHS and coordinated by Yvonne Walz (EGECHS and Ecosystem Services Section (EVES) at UNU-EHS) in close collaboration with Dr. Philip Bubeck from the project partner adelphi research and the project leader Professor Dr. Scira Menoni from Politecnico di Milano.