A Review of the Societal Impacts of Natural Hazards

Project Details

Description

The scope of this Review will cover a range of natural hazards (both rapid-onset and slow-onset) but will not be directed toward technological hazards, and those associated with conflict or infectious disease. The interest is in research that improves understanding of the physical characterization of hazards, individual and societal vulnerability to their impacts, and processes of response, risk reduction, adaptation and resilience building. The review will seek especially to draw out progress on research in contexts of high social vulnerability, in both higher-income and lower-income countries.

The specification for the review effectively requests two strands of investigation:
A) Research funding opportunities made available research funding organizations
B) Research activities undertaken or planned by research implementing organizations

Functionally, the two strands are distinct - and this is typically reflected in the institutional separation of funder from implementer, as in UK research council calls or the EU framework programme calls (however, we also recognize that there are cases in which such separation is not always so clear-cut, for example in situations where calls and/or tenders are established under a large programmatic initiative with multiple funding sources managed by a research organization or network).

It should be underlined that this review will focus primarily on UK funding sources / programmes and on major international funding sources / programmes, in order to inform decision-making and lobbying by UK-based institutions. It is not considered feasible or realistic under the timescale and funding for the review to attempt to cover the full range of international sources/programmes in relation to natural hazards, and even less so to map all the national initiatives within hazard-prone countries (many of which are likely to have comprehensive information available only in the national language e.g. in China and in Latin American countries). However, in our expert consultations on research priorities and gaps we will ensure that respondents take wider sources and programmes into account.

Methodology

In order to provide a contextual platform for the information gained from selected organizations (see below), data collection will commence at the outset of the review with an initial web-based search of UK funders and research institutions to identify and map the breadth of engagement across organizations. This will be complemented with an international search and mapping process, but focussing on large-scale and/or leading innovative programmes (the criteria on which to base this will be developed during initial expert consultations and liaison with the steering group). In the course of the review we will also draw on existing published international reviews of hazards research funding and of research activities.

Following this initial overview mapping exercise, the two review strands will be approached in slightly different ways for the main consultation process. Under Review strand A we will seek to gather information from all UK funders of research together with all major international funding sources targeted toward natural hazards. Information will be collected on the thematic and geographical scope of funding schemes, the types of research activity specified, eligibility criteria, disbursements and, where available, any evaluation reports on the funding programmes.

Review strand B will, of necessity, be more constrained in its coverage, because of the sheer number of organizations in the UK and internationally engaging in research projects of varying scale that link directly with hazards (e.g. hazard identification, characterization, prediction, communication and mitigation; disaster vulnerability, prevention, preparedness, emergency response and recovery; future projections of extreme weather events and climate change adaptation). Using a set of criteria developed through initial expert consultations and liaison with the steering group, we will: i) identify and consult all leading hazard research programmes in the UK; ii) identify leading international initiatives and consult a selection of these for the study. Information will be collected on the thematic and geographical foci of research programmes, principal activities, strategic goals and any demonstrable policy/practical impact. The in-depth consultations with these selected leading initiatives will have an illustrative purpose in terms of reviewing the scope of research activity, but, crucially, also enable us to gain wider expert perspectives on critical research needs and gaps.

Consultations with all organizations (funders and implementers) will be based on interviews with key contacts and on compilation of data on their funding streams/activities from documents. We will expect to undertake approximately 10-12 interviews in person within the UK and a further 12-15 interviews by telephone with organizations in the UK and overseas. If necessary, 3 overseas visits can be made to to the hosts of international initiatives. For each interviewed organization, we will record summarized information on standard data collection templates, in order to facilitate comparison of data and ensure standardization in the data collected. This method has been tested and proved effective in a current review of EU disaster risk reduction funding policies led by the principal applicant (in which activities of different member states and EC services have been recorded against a series of activity categories and cross-cutting themes).

Following the interview phase, this qualitative and quantitative assessment of patterns of funding and of research activity, triangulated with the perspectives from interviewees, will identify critical gaps (thematic and geographical) in relation to global risks from hazards and set this against likely future dynamics on the research horizon. Dynamics here applies both to future funding opportunities and changing characteristics of the hazards themselves; climate change and its impact is likely to be a significant driver for both types of dynamism.

The draft outputs of the review will then form the basis for an additional expert consultation period, involving both the planned International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction event and an expert workshop specifically designed for a small group of key experts to provide final inputs to the report. We expect that the workshop will be managed in close consultation with the steering group, but at this preliminary stage we envisage that this will be a one-day meeting involving a core group of 10 key experts focussing on goal-oriented discussion. We envisage 3 will be international experts, and suggest that, if necessary, the possibility of their inclusion via video links should be considered (to reduce carbon emissions and increase the likelihood of them being able to participate at this late stage). Throughout the review there will also be close liaison and consultation with members of the steering group and their wider UK and international contacts.

The final outputs of the review will be posted on the websites stated in the specification, together with those of the applicants’ institutions. We will also seek to publish the key findings of the review in the form of a DEV Working Paper and peer-reviewed papers for journals such as Environmental Hazards, Natural Hazards and Global Environmental Change.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date13/09/1028/02/11

Funding

  • Natural Environment Research Council: £35,208.00