University of Chile presented the South American Perspective on Disaster Science and Management

The University of Chile hosted the 10th APRU Research Symposium on Multi-Hazards in November 2014. In its ten years of existence, the APRU Research Symposium on Multi-Hazards was focusing for the first time on South America. In his keynote speech Prof. Oscar A. Ishizawa, Disaster Risk Management Specialist at World Bank emphasized that collaboration and knowledge action networks like the ones in APRU are important to prepare for disasters and adapt to the risk of natural hazards.

More than 100 researchers from Pacific Rim economies were presenting their casework and discussing the effects of natural hazards on the people in the region. National Autonomous University of Mexico, National Taiwan University, Osaka University, Peking University, Tohoku University, University of Auckland, University of Chile, University of Melbourne and the University of the Philippines were present at the Symposium.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis had a huge impact on the economies and societies in Chile, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand. Floods and landslides are a major problem in China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines. Volcanic eruptions threaten people in Chile, Colombia and Ecuador while bush fires are a major threat in Australia. Indigenous and / or communities with a less strong economic status or with a high percentage of senior citizens are the most vulnerable to those threats.

The field trip on the last day of the symposium brought the participants to the outskirts of Santiago to explore the San Ramón Fault. This fault is active and the probability of an earthquake of a magnitude of 6-7 is quite likely to happen nearby Santiago in the next three years. This area has become a high value greenfield site and will be soon covered by residences. It shows how economic and political interests can be higher valued than scientific research. But it also means that scientists and researchers have to continue to lobby more among other stakeholders and to communicate their research results better and in a more simplified way to the public and to decision-makers.