The British Geological Survey (BGS) is to be a research partner in a £20M project to plan disaster risk in cities vulnerable to natural hazards.
The UKRI GCRF Urban Disaster Risk Hub is a five-year project working to embed disaster risk management into the urban planning of four cities across the world by integrating resilience against extreme events.
The cities of Kathmandu (Nepal), Istanbul (Turkey), Nairobi (Kenya) and Quito (Ecuador) have been chosen based on their exposure to various natural hazards, variation in urban layout, development status and governance.
Designed to reinforce existing initiatives in these cities, the hub 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.
BGS scientists are contributing with their expertise in seismology, remote sensing, volcanic hazards and multi-hazard approaches to disaster risk reduction.
Colm Jordan, a team leader, earth and planetary observation and monitoring, will develop and apply earth observation research to characterise and strengthen resilience to hazards affecting urban environments. This is in coordination with other BGS projects (Meteor and Geoscience for Sustainable Futures) that are addressing multi-hazards, exposure and vulnerability.
Ekbal Hussain, a remote sensing geoscientist, will investigate the use of automatic alerts when there are unexpected changes in ground motion around key sites, for example at volcanoes, hill slopes prone to landslides or regions around critical infrastructure.
Margarita Segou, a seismologist will focus on improving the understanding of earthquakes in the hub cities and Joel Gill, an international development geoscientist, will explore multi-hazard scenarios in the cities and will help facilitate the exchange of multi-hazard approaches to risk reduction between cities.
BGS science director for global geoscience Martin Smith said: “Urbanisation is a rapidly developing and major challenge in the global south. There is an urgent need to protect lives, livelihoods and infrastructure by embedding research for disaster risk reduction into all aspects of development and planning.
“By facilitating new collaborations across diverse disciplines, sectors and nations, this hub has an exciting opportunity to deliver global impact that benefits some of the world’s poorest communities.
“At the BGS, we look forward to drawing on our international development and disaster risk reduction experience to support the hub, whilst enriching our understanding of disasters through our engagement with others.’
The hub will help cities meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations, particularly SDG 11, ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ and SDG 1.5, ‘Build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.”
Funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Global Challenges Research Fund, the hub brings together over 100 scientists, engineers and policymakers from more than 50 organisations.