UK government’s futures think tank to identify actions that could reduce the impacts of disasters

February 10th, 2012 by UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills

The UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, has announced that Foresight, the UK government’s futures think tank, has started a project to investigate how to improve anticipation of and resilience to disasters.

Professor Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government (click image to expand - image courtesy of UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills)

The project ‘Improving Future Disaster Anticipation and Resilience’ will identify actions that could be taken within the next ten years to reduce the impacts of disasters arising from hazards up to the year 2040.

It will call on industry and academic expertise from the UK and explore how emerging science and technology might improve our ability to prepare for and respond to these impacts.

The project is part of the UK Government’s response to Lord Ashdown’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Review commissioned by the UK Department for International Development.

It focuses on disasters that occur outside of developed countries, particularly in politically or economically fragile states, and will look at hazards including earthquakes, floods and droughts.

Speaking at the Royal Geographical Society on 9 February 2012, Professor Sir John Beddington said “internationally and domestically there is increasing concern for the destructive power of disasters, and science and evidence have a critical role to play in helping us predict and prepare for this.

“This project will build on the UK’s leading role in natural hazard and disaster research. It will help UK Government become more effective and efficient in dealing with disasters and will advance the work of major international organisations.”

Andrew Mitchell, UK Secretary of State for International Development said “global disasters are increasing in scale and complexity. They affect millions of people often in the world’s poorest countries. By preparing better for future disasters we can save many more lives, and also save the British taxpayer money in the long run.

“This new Foresight project will bring together, for the first time, key UK Government Departments and the international humanitarian community to identify how scientific evidence can strengthen anticipation and resilience to global disasters, so that Britain can continue to be a world leader in disaster response.”

This project is the first of Foresight’s new ‘Policy Futures’ projects. These are a shorter kind of Foresight project that will help UK policy makers deliver key agendas by providing futures and evidence analysis to fill a specific gap in existing understanding. The project will report its findings by the end of 2012.

The project will be guided by a group of experts from a range of disciplines, and will be informed by the best current research across the physical sciences, health, social sciences and economics.

Its findings will help UK and international policy-makers navigate a challenging and uncertain future.

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