Bangkok, 2011 flood.
Bangkok, 2011 flood. Photo credit: Chrisgel Ryan Cruz via Flickr

Asia has suffered several major disasters in the last two decades, and weather-related disasters are likely to increase in frequency along with climate change. In Asia alone a projected 410 million will be vulnerable to flooding by 2025. The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific estimates that 17 Southeast Asian cities with a collective population of 46 million are at extreme risk from a range of hazards, and projects this number to increase to 66 million by 2030.

Efforts to reduce disaster risk in Asia were stepped up last year as ministers from across the region adopted the Asia Regional Implementation Plan of the Sendai Framework, which was set up in 2015 to better understand disaster risk, strengthen governance, increase resilience and better prepare for and recover from disasters.

The challenge is to implement the framework, and science has a key role to play in supporting practitioners and policy-makers in their efforts.

The IRDR International Centre of Excellence was announced at the 2017 SEI Science Forum during a session on how research can help to implement the framework.

Frank Thomalla, head of SEI’s Reducing Disaster Risk Cluster, said: “Vulnerability to both natural and climate related disasters is increasing in Asia, and research will play a key role in tackling reducing it. The centre of excellence can make a significant contribution.”

The partnership with IRDR on the centre, based at SEI’s Asia Centre in Bangkok and supported by SEI’s Initiative on Transforming Development and Disaster Risk, will enable SEI to catalyze its expertise on DRR and generate new knowledge. It will also develop partnerships and cooperation between key institutions in the region, such as the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC), Chulalongkorn University, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Read more on SEI’s disaster risk research»