Launch of the CATALYST project Think Tank

20 March 2012 -CATALYST has officially launched its Think Tank. The Think Tank process will engage public officials, the scientific community and the private sector, and include online discussions, virtual meetings and capacity development workshops held in four regions which are particularly vulnerable to natural disaster


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CATALYST Think Tank launched:
How can we respond and adapt better to natural disasters?

While we may not be able to do much to prevent natural disasters, the consortium partners of an EU-funded project named CATALYST, Capacity Development for Hazard Risk Reduction and Adaptation, believe that, by pooling information, experience and best practices from people involved in researching and responding to such disasters, a difference can be made: both to the numbers of people whose lives and livelihoods are affected, and to the severity of the damage caused by such disasters.

Natural disasters have certainly been in the news over the last two years, causing havoc and destruction around the globe. 2011 began with a massive triple disaster: an earthquake on the scale of 8.9 in Japan, followed by the devastating tsunami and subsequent nuclear powerplant meltdown.  In 2010 almost 300 million people were affected by disasters: the year began with the earthquake in Haiti, followed by an even more severe (though less devastating) earthquake in Chile, a volcanic eruption in Iceland, severe Russian wildfires, and flooding in Pakistan which covered 20% of the country. Over 130 million Chinese were affected by the worst flooding in recent history.

The majority of disasters are not on such a large scale, yet "smaller" disasters are also deadly, causing significant human suffering and displacement and bringing economic, social, and in some instances, political consequences.

It is in order to gather and share this information that CATALYST is launching its Think Tank this week. Dr Matt Hare, the project coordinator and co-founder of seeconsult GmbH in Germany explained: "We have invited the scientific community, representatives from the private sector, public officials, as well as non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, to participate in a series of activities designed to identify current best practices and gaps in our existing knowledge. The idea is that, with this information, communities will be in a better position to respond and adapt to disasters more efficiently and effectively."

Over the next eighteen months, the CATALYST team will organise and facilitate online discussions, virtual meetings, and regional capacity development workshops so that Think Tank members can share and add to each other's specialist and localised knowledge. The results of these discussions and activities will be the basis for Best Practices papers, a Policy Notebook aimed at policy-makers, and an education module, all on natural hazard risk reduction and adaptation. 

"The CATALYST project partners have been working very hard behind the scenes to support the Think Tank - researching and preparing documents for discussion and making sure that all the online tools and activities are up and running and easily accessible. We are very excited to have reached this stage. Now the really important work of collaborating with our colleagues in the field from all over the world can begin," adds Dr Hare.

Essentially the project is about building bridges between people who don't always have the chance to talk to each other: sometimes because they live in different countries and speak different languages; but sometimes because they work in a different sector. "Scientists and policy-makers don't often find themselves talking around the same table", says CATALYST consortium member, Fons Jaspers of Netherlands-based Alterra. The CATALYST Think Tank provides that table. Now we can start talking and identifying those best practices that can help save lives in other regions.”


For additional information about the CATALYST project, or how to take part, contact  mhare AT seeconsult DOT org  


Editor’s note
Project partners include: seeconsult GmbH; Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM); Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ); TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world; The National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS); Alterra (a research institute for the living environment and part of Wageningen University); and the United Nations University - Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).

CATALYST is a coordination action financially supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013), under grant agreement 283177.



Disclaimer. The results contained in this website were produced within the CATALYST project "Capacity Development for Hazard Risk Reduction and Adaptation" funded under the FP7 by the European Commission. This website is the sole responsiblity of the CATALYST Project and does not represent the opinion of the European Community nor is the European community responsible for any use that might be made of the data appearing herein.
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