Few regions of the world have achieved as much economic progress in recent decades as Asia. Yet, across the region, there is also broad recognition that building on this progress will be difficult unless countries and communities grapple with the intensifying disaster risks that are only being exacerbated by climate change. On average, each year, more than 120 million people in Asia are affected by disasters, including cyclones, floods, typhoons, and heatwaves.
On December 2 to 3, 2021, the Understanding Risk (UR) Asia Conference brought together participants from 50 countries to exchange ideas and inspire action for how Asia can chart a more resilient future. While nearly 100 people joined the event in-person in Singapore, 1,000 participants joined online.
Over the course of two jam-packed days, 31 sessions featured 100 speakers spanning the private sector, public sector, civil society, and academia from Asia and beyond.
Vinod Thomas, former Director General of Independent Evaluation at the Asian Development Bank and now a Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore, started off the conference with a clarion call to refocus risk communication efforts on connecting the dots between the weather risks that people and communities experience and the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing them.
Peter Gluckman, Head of Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, University of Auckland, emphasized the need for risk communicators to convey messages to policy makers using accessible language and a compelling narrative, but without compromising the scientific evidence.
Robert Soden, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, and Caroline Gevaert, Assistant Professor from the University of Twente in the Netherlands, highlighted a GFDRR report they co-authored that draws attention to the importance of using artificial intelligence for disaster risk management in an ethically responsible way.
Communicating risk in the age of misinformation, enhancing the resilience of smart cities through cognitive computing, and bridging the gap in investment and priorities on adaptation and resilience were among the other captivating topics front and center in the sessions.
UR Asia concluded with the launch of a new initiative, the Averted Disaster Award, designed to bring visibility to successful interventions that help ensure communities continue to function in the face of disaster risk.
Co-organized by the World Bank and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk (IPUR), with the support of GFDRR, UR Asia was the first regional event in Asia hosted by Understanding Risk (UR), the 13,000-strong global community of experts and practitioners working in the field of disaster risk identification, assessment, and communication. Previous regional UR events have been held in Central America, Central Asia, West and Central Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Balkans.
UR ASIA BY THE NUMBERS
Over 1,000 participants from 50 countries
25 partner organizations
100 speakers at 31 sessions