Following the registrations, the approximately 200 delegates from over 60 countries piled into the auditorium for the Opening Ceremony, where the Vice-Governor of Kyoto University, the vice-president of Kyoto prefecture, the Major of Uji city and the GADRI secretariat welcomed all the delegates. A group photo was also taken! The theme of the conference is ‘Expanding the Platform for Bridging Science and Policy making’
The first session allowed for representatives from some of the worlds largest international DRR institutions to give their opinion on how DRR research is influencing policy, and where collaboration could be further developed. We heard from the director of the Japanese cabinet office for Disaster Risk Management, the senior advisor to UNISDR, the vice chair of the UNISDR Science and Technology Advisory Group (STAG) and a special representative of the World Bank. A key theme which emerged was the need for national governments to mainstream DRR research themes into policy to reduce disaster risk and promote sustainable development. The Japanese structure for this provides an effective example, though it was stressed there is no one-size fits all approach.
Lunch was excellent if you are taking a liking to Japanese cuisine, as you ended up with 2 helpings of everything! See the photo below of the delicious vegetarian lunch.
After a coffee/looking at poster break for an hour, the conference was split into 4 groups to discusses current research status and important future research themes in the categories of Hydrological and metrological, earthquake volcano and compound disasters, Geohazard and Social/Human Science related Disaster Risk. The latter perhaps overrepresented by Northumbria as both DDS delegates as well as Prof Collins (chair) were in attendance. The group was split into 4 again to discuss present and future research themes of Social/Human Science related disaster risk research. Each group of 4 then fed back their discussion findings to the 3 other groups through 1 spokesperson. 1 of which was Peter! The main findings agreed by all 4 groups were that Social/Human Science related disaster research has successfully changed the landscape and framework of disaster research. However, it was also agreed it was the weakest of the 4 overall categories in terms of influencing policy makers. Other key themes for the future will be the move from trans/multi-disciplinary research towards inter-disciplinary research, increasingly synchronised research objectives and the need for increased engagement with civil society. It was agreed there are great ideas there which need to be put into practice and/or expanded.
This marked the end of the ‘serious’ part of the day, leaving only the Welcome Reception to be completed. There was plenty of tasty buffet food and drinks, though there was a general consensus among the conference goers that with this being night 1 of 3, it wasn’t going to be a long night.
The DDS delegates caught the train back to Kyoto after about 90 minutes of the reception and found an English pub completely by accident, where the one who missed out on lunch could eat some fish and chips.
Peter McGowran and Mark Ashely Parry