14th APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium
October 21-24 at Australian National University, Australia
Risk, Resilience and Reconstruction: Science and Governance for EffectiveDisaster Risk Reduction and Recovery in Australia and the Asia-Pacific
The 14th APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium focused on how close association and collaboration between academia and governance on a local, national and regional level can address education, public outreach, infrastructure construction, disaster management, emergency rescue and hazard recovery in the field of disaster risk reduction.
APRU Readies for Looming Book Launch with Springer on Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions
APRU is proud to announce that the APRU Multi-Hazards Program has facilitated the upcoming book Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions: Considerations for a Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Analysis, published by Springer.
Higher educational institutions (HEIs) have had to undergo significant transformations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some countries had to cope with the pandemic and natural hazards simultaneously. However, the situation had a silver lining, as it has allowed HEIs to review their campus disaster preparedness, response, and recovery capacities.
The upcoming book Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions: Considerations for a Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Analysis covers the experiences and lessons learned from HEIs in preparedness, response, and recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for such calamities beyond natural disasters in the future.
The book has been edited by Takako Izumi, Associate Professor of IRIDeS, Tohoku University, Japan, and Director of APRU Multi-Hazards (MH) Program; Indrajit Pal, Associate Professor, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand; and Rajib Shaw, Professor of Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Japan.
Izumi’s chapter includes a checklist for university preparedness developed under the APRU MH campus safety program. A survey was conducted based on the checklist to assess the current preparedness capacities on campus and identify their challenges to minimize damage from future hazards.
“The survey result showed that not many universities conducted even a general risk assessment on campus. It is strongly recommended that universities review their current disaster management plans with proper risk assessment and improve them to be applicable to a wider range of risks,” Izumi said.
A chapter co-written by Dr. Mellissa Withers, Associate Professor at the University of Southern California and Director of the APRU Global Health Program, and Elly Vandegrift, Director of Global STEM Education Initiatives in the Global Studies Institute at the University of Oregon, contains fifteen case studies from universities in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., finding that faculty learned to create online community environments and meaningful assessment and assignment systems. At the same time, students responded to new offerings to participate in global cross-cultural and cross-country event programs. The authors described how the APRU Virtual Student Exchange Program facilitated immersive structural exchange connecting students with peers abroad in projects ranging from exploring the Galapagos islands to picturing Hong Kong through historical paintings and photos.
“Although many of these innovations were born out of necessity, they have certainly set the stage for post-pandemic higher education in the future,” Withers said in a webinar held on May 24 in preparation for the launch.
In the same webinar, Dr. Pan Tsung-Yi, Associate Research Fellow at the Center for Weather Climate and Disaster Research, National Taiwan University (NTU), presented an overview of the Taiwanese government’s epidemic prevention in the higher education system. Pan explained how NTU swiftly developed a digital learning platform for non-contact teaching while creating a low-cost automated temperature measuring device with a contract tracing system for face-to-face learning by describing the universities’ role. The system successfully handled 26,000 visits to the NTU campus daily, involving 80,000 daily ID card scans to avoid Covid-19 cluster-spreading between the different campus buildings.
“Through the sharing of the Taiwan experience, we hope institutions can refer to it to enhance campus safety and resilience for the future,” Pan said.
Dr. Ailsa Holloway, a Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Auckland University of Technology, explained that New Zealand’s Covid-19 responses were based on the national risk context of past measles outbreaks, volcanic eruptions, Australian bushfires, and earthquakes.
“We learned that higher education governance systems that systematically incorporate disaster risk considerations are better placed for vigorous and coherent emergency response,” Holloway said.
“Universities are vital in the frontline response to public health and other emergencies, while also being vulnerable, both externally with respect to exposures outside the institution and internally with respect to students, staff, and the operating system,” she added.
Information about the book Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions:
More on APRU Multi-Hazards Program:
As a network of 60 leading universities linking the Americas, Asia, and Australasia, APRU brings together thought leaders, researchers, and policy-makers to exchange ideas and collaborate on practical solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. They leverage their members’ collective education and research capabilities into the international public policy process. In the post-pandemic era, their strategic priorities focus on providing a neutral platform for high-level policy dialogue, taking actions on climate change, and supporting diversity, inclusion, and minorities. APRU’s primary activities support these strategic priorities with a focus on critical areas such as disaster risk reduction, women in leadership, indigenous knowledge, virtual student exchange, esports, population aging, global health, sustainable cities, artificial intelligence, waste management, and more.
To learn more about APRU, please visit www.apru.org
Director, Communications, APRU
Email: [email protected]
APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021 Strengthens Preparedness for Future Disaster Management
The APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021 was held virtually November 24-25, hosted by the Disaster Risk Reduction Center of Universitas Indonesia (UI). The event, which took two years of preparation due to the pandemic, offered oral and poster presentations for researchers and students to exchange study outcomes.
Southeast Asia, one of the world’s regions most at risks of natural disasters, has been striving to develop its resilience to disasters. The APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021’s theme Building Partnerships for Sustainable Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for All Hazards highlighted the importance of an all-hazards approach, while underlining the focus on strengthening resilience and preparedness for future disaster management. This covers natural and biological hazards, such as the world is experiencing right now with COVID-19.
“This event was the result of collaboration between multiple national and international parties that took extra care to ensure it goes smoothly and provided valuable experience for everyone involved,” said Symposium Chairperson Prof. dra. Fatma Lestari.
“Within the call for abstracts, we have received and reviewed more than 350 abstracts and full papers from across the globe, and we were also able to collaborate with various national and international journals in helping scholars with their scientific publications,” she added.
The multidisciplinary nature of the APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021 was attested to by the subsidiary themes of crisis management, innovative infrastructure, and sustainability.
Over 1,000 participants attended, with featured speakers including representatives from five APRU member universities, Indonesian government officials, as well as representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), United Nations University, and the Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS).
Nearly 250 participants provided presentations. Prize awards were given to presenters from Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, and the USA.
The APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2022 will be hosted by Chulalongkorn University under the theme Innovation Towards Sustainable Growth and Disaster Risk Reduction.
Find out more about the Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021 here.
2nd APRU Multi-Hazards Webinar Series calls for new disaster risk management approaches after COVID-19
The APRU Multi-Hazards Program successfully completed its second webinar series held in three sessions on September 30 and October 14 and 30, involving a total of thirteen speakers and 784 viewers. On the theme ‘A New Approach for Disaster Risk Management after COVID-19’, experts shared their experiences, and perspectives on preparedness and responses, introduced innovative tools and ideas on a scale-up of disaster risk management and addressed the need for connecting researchers and practitioners to identify most effective planning and actions.
Key international organizations, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), explained how they have been supporting governments and regional initiatives to raise awareness for the importance of strong regional networks.
The webinars, were organized against the backdrop of the COVID-19 experience reminding us that disaster risks are not only natural but include a wide range of disaster types, such as biological, chemical, and industrial calamitous events as emphasized in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted at the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai in 2015.
“APRU comprises 56 member-universities in the disaster-prone Pacific Rim region, and campus safety is crucial as universities hold larger numbers of students, faculty, and staff than lower schools,” said Takako Izumi, the director of the APRU Multi-Hazards Program, at the webinar.
“It is very important for universities to consider the risks of both natural and man-made hazards, as they usually keep dangerous substances, and any campus accident may threaten the surrounding community’s safety,” she added.
The webinars concluded with the launch of the new collaborative platform CBRNe-Natech Asian Disaster Risk Initiative (CnADRI). Based on the APRU Multi-Hazards Campus Safety Program, CnADRI will provide a space to share and discuss common challenges and identify solutions for various stakeholders.
To know more about the webinar series and the speakers, please visit the webpage.
To view a journal paper on managing and responding to pandemics in higher education institutions, please click here.
APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Virtual Summer School 2020
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the 8th edition of APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Summer School had to be held virtually. Through a zoom platform, three sessions were held on July 15, 22, and 29 (JST).
The event aimed to share the experiences and lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET), learn from the experiences in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and risk management from various stakeholders, and understand the latest international disaster science research conducted by the researchers globally.
Total 842 people worldwide have attended the sessions.
View the program and report here.
View the speakers’ information here.
Read a blog from our students who joined the summer school from Nanyang Technological University.
Disaster preparedness would improve HE pandemic response
Original post in University World News
Universities can better prepare themselves for future pandemics and become more resilient with a planning approach that encompasses other natural disasters, says Hideo Ohno, president of Japan’s Tohoku University in Sendai, which was badly affected by the 2011 East Japan Earthquake.
Many Pacific Rim universities that were best prepared for campus closures at very short notice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic already had emergency disaster response procedures in place.
These included university plans in the event of bushfires in Australia and California in the United States just before the pandemic and partly overlapping it; typhoons in the Philippines, earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan; and previous epidemics such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS in East Asia and MERS in South Korea.
“Universities need to take a multi-hazard approach in their planning” to prepare for natural disasters and other hazards like the pandemic, Ohno told University World News.
Sendai, where Tohoku University is situated, suffered a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011 in which 20,000 people lost their lives, compared to 982 deaths from COVID-19 to date.
Fumihiko Imamura, professor of tsunami engineering and director of the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), established at Tohoku University a year after the 2011 earthquake, devised a number of principles derived from disaster science for universities and societies to respond to such events.
Ohno cites these, among them “that disasters have evolved together with our lifestyle, which was very true in the pandemic situation as well”. In the case of tsunamis, people are reluctant to move away from the coast, he notes.
“Second, humans cannot do more than prepare. The third point is that crisis management and response planning should be based on the worst scenario, which is also true in the current case.”
“Another point is that it is necessary to judge a response under uncertain conditions. So we do not have full information why we are in the pandemic and the disaster response.”
“The final point is that to create new lifestyles is important. We call it ‘build back better’,” said Ohno. “These are the lessons that we learn from earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions, heavy rain and landslides. But these principles are surprisingly apt for the COVID-19 situation and to counter future pandemics.
“We had many unknowns [with COVID-19] but the only thing that we know is that we have to be prepared for [another] highly toxic influenza virus pandemic in the future,” Ohno emphasised.
Tohoku University’s own in-house emergency advisory team for COVID-19 was first set up as an informal group providing advice from late January and then regular input in the university administration’s emergency planning.
The team included Hitoshi Oshitani, professor of virology at Tohoku’s Graduate School of Medicine who was also on the Japanese government’s expert advisory team on the pandemic, which was providing advice from late February.
“We were very fortunate that this expertise that we tapped over that time overlapped partly with the national response team,” Ohno noted.
“We locked down the entire university in April so there was plenty of lead time,” he says.
During this time, the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama Bay turned out to be an important ‘laboratory’. In February the cruise ship was declared by the World Health Organization to have more than half the known cases of COVID-19 outside China at that time. Some 700 COVID-19 cases were on the ship which had 3,710 passengers, as well as crew.
“The country and specialists learned quite a lot from this,” said Ohno, particularly about transmission. The experts “informed us very early, late March or early April, that 80% of people who contracted coronavirus do not transmit coronavirus to others. The 20% is important and they tend to be young and active and most likely asymptomatic,” Ohno said. “So we asked our students not to travel back to their homes.”
He said the level of seriousness went up in March “when we had the first case within our student body and we didn’t want to spread it to other students and other city residents and the community”.
This was in contrast with universities in many other countries which sent most students home when they began to lock down campuses.
Lessons for higher education was one of the topics at a 17 June webinar organised by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) multi-hazards programme hosted by Tohoku University’s IRIDeS.
Takako Izumi, associate professor at IRIDeS and programme director for the APRU-Tohoku multi-hazard programme, said lack of preparedness by higher education institutions was clear from a recent survey conducted by Tohoku.
Of 150 responses from 65 Pacific Rim universities in 29 countries, two-thirds of them in Asia, “almost 50% of the universities are not ready” for such emergencies, “especially for a pandemic”, Izumi said.
According to the survey, 53% of Pacific Rim higher education institutions had an emergency management office. But 47% lacked a permanent or dedicated emergency management office, Izumi said.
Some 41% of institutions lacked a general business continuity plan to prepare for an emergency. Even for institutions that had such plans, “33% of the plans do not cover biological hazards in pandemic risk management. Sixty per cent of the business continuity plans did not include conducting simulation exercises in advance based on the plans,” which meant the effectiveness of such plans could not be assessed, Izumi said.
From the survey carried out in April, when many of the universities had shut down, the top two issues in preparing for emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic cited by respondents were “lack of organisational preparedness for a pandemic” and “lack of pandemic-specific advance simulation exercises”, she said.
The shift from classroom learning to online learning and internet access, an issue highlighted by many university leaders around the world in recent months, was only the third most important concern, according to the survey results.
“Governance issues are more strongly addressed than educational issues as key challenges. That implies that people in higher education institutions understand and already realise the importance of preparedness,” Izumi said.
Adapting emergency plans to COVID-19
Tan Eng Chye, president of the National University of Singapore (NUS), told University World News: “In 2003, SARS hit us quite badly. Since that time we have had a business continuity plan. Part of that plan is to look at possible scenarios. A pandemic is one of them.”
Others include building collapse, a major fire or terrorist attack. “For each scenario we have a rough plan,” he explained.
But every crisis is different. NUS experts in public health and infectious disease “kept reminding us that COVID-19 is not SARS. That advice has been very useful because it helps us to recalibrate our plan which was based on SARS,” Tan said. “COVID-19 changes very quickly. So as things were developing, our colleagues were very quick to learn what was happening in China and apply it.”
Cynthia Larive, chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz in the United States, noted: “We had an emergency management structure in place and that was very useful.”
It includes an operations centre for the university and how to manage communications, including coordination with the city and county. “We do tabletop exercises to practise,” Larive told University World News. Even so, planning for COVID-19 was challenging.
“With an earthquake or fire you get through it very rapidly. You do an assessment, then plan for how your recovery can begin. But this pandemic is a different kind of situation. We are in it for a much longer period. In some ways it is less devastating, but it is hard to anticipate all the impacts and understand when it will end.”
Larive says the university’s planning included five phases, depending on changing threat levels during the pandemic, and involving different actions for each phase so the campus could move back to a higher alert level with a second COVID-19 phase, for example.
Including the community
Tohoku’s Ohno stressed that the wider community is as important as campus-based emergency planning.
The “2011 [earthquake] impacted us, our local community and our minds as well. Our focus was sharper after 2011. We knew we had to work with society in order to solve social issues and we have to collaborate within the university; we can’t just have independent silos. And the pandemic has absolutely reinforced that,” Ohno said.
“For example, from the outset we knew that we had to take swift action to support students during the pandemic. We were one of the earliest in the country in establishing student support – financial support as well as a peer support system among students.
“We had to ask students not to engage in jobs like waitressing at restaurants and things like that because we were afraid it might spread the virus on campus. So we got together initial financial support of approximately US$4 million for students.”
Disaster recovery on campus and in research work has to involve the community, to better prepare for future disasters and increase campus resilience.
“Almost 20,000 people lost their lives during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami – 90% of people drowned. So there was this feeling of how can we as a university help society and how can we help the local community and this naturally evolved into projects and programmes,” Ohno explains, pointing out that it took three to four years for the university to recover fully, as some university buildings had to be rebuilt, though lectures were able to resume within half a year.
“More than a hundred small projects spontaneously emerged from our university after 2011,” Ohno said.
The projects ranged from support for disaster-affected children, mental healthcare for disaster-affected people, radiation monitoring in Fukushima around the nuclear power plant damaged by the earthquake, research into ecological and marine impacts of the Fukushima radiation leakage, rescue activities for affected museums, agricultural reconstruction projects, archaeological surveys for the resettlement of tsunami victims, rescue robot technology and disaster-resistant medical instruments, among many others.
“Later in 2015 we launched 30 programmes addressing broader societal issues, not just recovering from the earthquake.” This coincided with planning for the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and also the Paris Agreement on climate change – “2015 was when these three international agendas were set,” he pointed out.
“The university’s role is to come up with a more generic holistic picture and that is a big, big challenge because we have a collection of specialists but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can formulate a holistic view. That’s not just a challenge for our university but for the whole higher education system.”
Just as it acted swiftly to set up IRIDeS for interdisciplinary and expert disaster research a year after the 2011 quake, the university is planning a new interdisciplinary pandemic research centre. Ohno said that when he recently asked the university’s 3,000 faculty members how they would use their expertise to counter the COVID-19 situation, he received some 200 proposals.
The next stage is to secure the research funding for the new centre. “The centre will have two focuses, one will be interdisciplinary, broad, social, cultural response and understanding the history [of pandemics] to see the sort of societal response we can have. The other pillar is looking at what people are doing elsewhere as well using our expertise to directly counter the coronavirus pandemic,” Ohno said.
The centre will be important for collaboration across disciplines within the university and internationally, and with the community. “We need to consolidate [research] efforts so that we can counter what’s happening in this corona world and the ‘new normal’. That includes medical and direct research on the virus itself. But we also have to come up with a social structure that is more resilient to new pandemics if they come.”
APRU x IRIDeS Webinar: Multi-hazards Approach and COVID-19
originally published in Tohoku University
Tohoku University’s International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Multi Hazards Program hosted a seminar online on June 17 to discuss strategies and early recovery lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moderated by Professor Rajib Shaw of Keio University, the international panel of speakers represented perspectives from the United Nations, government, the private sector and academia.
Shaw described the COVID-19 pandemic as “one of the longest live disasters” of our time, and warned of seasonal dangers, such as typhoons and heatwaves, that still await. “It will be a long journey so we need some strategies to learn to live with risk.”
Kicking off the lectures was Yong-kyun Kim, Director General of South Korea’s National Disaster and Safety Control Center. He attributed his country’s success in “flattening the curve,” to decisive and transparent government policies and the extensive use of innovative technology.
He cited regular government updates through text messaging and other forms of communication that helped authorities win the public’s trust and cooperation. ICT-based systems and mobile phone apps also gave the government some control in monitoring persons from high risk areas or those who are supposed to be in quarantine.
But perhaps the most effective Korean response to the pandemic was the widespread testing, contact tracing and rigorous treatment, which Kim described as “the 3T strategy.” An innovative drive-through testing method allowed people to be tested from their cars, or to walk through a booth. Because the RT-PCR tests could return diagnostic results within six hours, positive cases were dealt with quickly, said Kim.
Loretta Hieber Girardet, who heads the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction for Asia and the Pacific, explained how the UN has been working to prevent COVID-19 from derailing the work that had been going on around the world on achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
“The world has been looking at COVID-19 as a health crisis, but it goes far beyond that,” she said, adding that the UN has been developing a framework to support countries on issues like urbanization, gender equality, human rights and green recovery.
Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, President of the Philippines National Resilience Council, spoke on how the private sector can build resilience, and had three recommendations: understand local risks and vulnerabilities, invest in early detection and warning systems, and have a pre-disaster recovery plan.
She said companies should build their crisis management capabilities by learning from best practices across all sectors, adding that conventional corporate social responsibility is no longer enough. Disaster risk reduction, especially health security, should be embedded in the core values of all corporations going forward.
Anchoring the panel was Associate Professor Takako Izumi from IRIDeS. She highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on universities and their level of preparedness to meet the challenges.
Izumi, who is also the director of the APRU Multi-hazards Program, shared the results of an April survey of 65 universities in 29 countries, which revealed that nearly half of them did not have sufficient organisational preparedness when the pandemic struck.On the academic front, some institutions also struggled with the shift from traditional classroom learning to online-based learning.
Izumi concluded that the following adjustments need to be made to ensure better preparedness in the future:
– have adequate business continuity plans (BCP) and emergency management units
– use a blended learning approach to education
– raise awareness of not just natural disasters, but also biohazard and health risks
– build a network with other stakeholders and be part of a wider DRR agenda
– have designated funding to scale up preparedness
“We see from this pandemic that an all-hazards approach to risk assessment is vital for academic institutions. This includes their emergency response mechanism, as well as information sharing and risk communication systems, such as early warning and evacuation plans,” said Izumi. “It’s also important to have drills and stress tests before the disaster, to make sure the plans work.”
The 90-minute event wrapped up with the panelists reiterating the need to understand the interconnected nature of risks. “Certainly COVID-19 for us is a wake-up call around systemic risks,” said Girardet. “You cannot look at risks in isolation.”
For more information, please visit APRU Plus website at https://www.apruplus.org/june-17-webinar
APRU-IRIDeS MH Program: http://aprumh.irides.tohoku.ac.jp/