Past workshops: Hindsight of the 2019 INQUIMUS workshop
The topic of the sixth INQUIMUS workshop was: “Data, methods and tools for dynamic risk assessments: What are requirements, and how to tackle persisting challenges?” This year it was held from the 26th-28th November at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany, and hosted by the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). This year’s workshop was attended by 35 participants from a variety of professional backgrounds, with a balanced representation from both research and practitioners, as well as early-career and senior scientists.
Overview of the INQUIMUS 2019 workshop:
Recognising that the vast majority of risk assessments are still based on static (e.g. index-based) approaches and often do not adequately represent the inherent complexities (e.g. feedbacks and coupling, inter-indicator relationships) and space-time dynamics of risk and its components (hazard, exposure and vulnerability), this year’s workshop sought to explore the challenges and opportunities in this fast-growing field. The following questions guided the workshop’s aims:
- Which types of inherent complexities and space-time dynamics should be considered when assessing risk and its components?
- How can we simulate the effect of human behaviour and potential risk reduction or adaptation options on risk patterns and trends?
- Which data, methods and tools are needed (and do exist) to represent and capture these dynamics in assessments? How can big data support dynamic assessments?
- What are the major challenges, and what would be the potential ways forward?
The workshop kicked off with an opening talk by Dr Zita Sebesvari of UNU-EHS, on the implications of information scarcity for assessing coastal risk dynamics in the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere (SCROCC). In keeping with the interactive format of previous INQUIMUS workshops, 2019 was no exception. It featured 3 keynote presentations from guest speakers, each followed by a highly interactive break-out group discussion. The break-out group discussions were also informed by a series of case studies presented by participants on topics ranging from impact chains of mudflows in Tajikistan to recent high tide flooding in Venice. The 3 State-of-the-Art (SOTA) talks were given by:
- Sergio Freire of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre on ‘Dynamics in Hazard and Exposure’
- Dr Zinta Zommers of UNDRR on ‘Inherent Complexities and Dynamics in Vulnerability’
- Toon Haer of Vrije University Amsterdam on ‘Simulating the Effect of Human Behaviour, DRR & Adaptation Options on Risk Patterns and Trends’
Alongside the SOTAs, participants were asked to bring along and present posters in an interactive, elevator-style format on the topic of dynamic risk assessment. Topics presented ranged from urban growth modelling for future exposure assessment to measuring social vulnerability to malaria using systems dynamics.
INQUIMUS 2019 provided much space and time for the stimulating exchange of new ideas and insights. Off the back of much discussion, the workshop identified the following challenges and opportunities to dynamic risk assessments:
- Existing approaches to risk assessment only partly capture dynamics, which can lead to misleading policy messages
- Data quality, availability and access issues hamper progress towards scaling up assessments of dynamics of exposure from local to global
- States often do not have the capacity to capture dynamics in vulnerability, e.g. through disaggregated data collection for indicators
- Simulating adaptive behaviour needs a lot more primary data for validation
- Big data (e.g. remote sensing, mobile phone data, crowdsourcing etc.) offers many avenues to explore dynamics in exposure and vulnerability, while agent-based models, Bayesian networks, systems dynamics models and scenario modelling offer solutions for addressing some of these challenges in respect to the effects of adaptive behaviour on risk
Background to INQUIMUS 2019 workshop:
Understanding and reducing disaster risk are key priorities in international policy documents and agendas, and the need for improved knowledge and information on drivers, hotspots and dynamics of disaster risk has been repeatedly stressed by scientists, practitioners and policy makers. As a result we have witnessed a sharp increase in the number of risk assessments over the past decades aiming to inform the identification and planning of risk reduction and adaptation options. While the need for integrative, transdisciplinary approaches for understanding and assessing the inherent complexity and dynamic nature of risk (in all its dimensions of hazard, exposure and vulnerability) has been widely acknowledged, the development and application of methods and tools to better understand and assess that complexity has not kept pace yet. Today, the majority of risk assessments are still based on static (e.g. index-based) approaches and often do not represent the inherent complexities (e.g. feedbacks and coupling, inter-indicator relationships) and space-time dynamics of risk and its components adequately. Dynamic modelling approaches (e.g. agent-based models, Bayesian networks, system dynamics approaches, etc.) offer new opportunities not only for more dynamic risk assessments (e.g. human-environmental interaction, space-time dynamics), but also for simulating the potential effects of human behavior and risk reduction/adaptation options on risk patterns and trends.
The INQUIMUS workshop 2019 aims at:
- Reviewing and discussing the state-of-the art (incl. data, methods and tools) regarding dynamic risk assessments, and the simulation of the effect of risk reduction and adaptation options
- Identifying remaining challenges, and exploring opportunities for future research and transferring established approaches
The result of the workshop will be a joint commentary article in a peer-reviewed journal based on the inputs, group discussions, and post-workshop engagement of the participants.