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Invited perspectives: Challenges and step changes for natural hazard - Perspectives from the German Committee for Disaster Reduction (DKKV)

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The German Committee for Disaster Reduction (DKKV) is the largest platform for disaster risk reduction in Germany and has been promoting prevention and disaster risk reduction in science, practice, and politics since the beginning of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction in 1990. The overarching leitmotif of the DKKV is the strengthening of societal resilience and fostering the exchange and knowledge transfer between research, operative actions, the policy level, and the public. The DKKV acts as an umbrella organization for German institutions and experts in the field of disaster risk reduction and functions as an intermediary to national and international networks and initiatives. Students and recent graduates are involved in the network and can actively participate in DKKV activities for a reduced membership fee. We hereby aim to empower young professionals and invite them to contribute to disaster risk reduction through the use of science, engineering, technology, and innovation through participation. As described in Fig. 1, the DKKV is active in three fields, i.e. (1) networking and fostering exchange between experts from science, practice, administration, and politics; (2) consulting of decision-makers to provide best practices and ac-tionable advice to stakeholders; and (3) knowledge management and transfer addressing civil society and the general public to promote prevention measures, e.g. via our web-site, flyers, and public lectures and workshops. The DKKV is an active member of national and international networks; e.g. it acts as the national focal point for IRDR (Integrated Research on Disaster Risk) and GNDR (Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction), is an observer organisation for the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), is an active member of E-STAG (European Science and Technology Advisory Group), and contributes to networks such as Risk KAN (Knowledge Action Network on Emergent Risks and Extreme Events) and DERN (Disaster and Emergency Research Network). The DKKV frequently contributes to research projects such as MATRIX (FP7), ESPREssO (H2020), and PLACARD (H2020). Within research projects, the DKKV generally aims to contribute to communication and dissemination as well as to tasks which require the synthesis of research results for different stakeholders and communities. At the same time, this project participation allows the DKKV to extend and strengthen its network, develop new methods and approaches (such as serious games), and provide funding for activities that create synergies between project tasks and activities that lie in the field of our institutional goals. 2 Challenges for future research and resilience building The worldwide challenge of the present as well as the future is to navigate the global community to a sustainable and secure future. Humanity is increasingly facing multiple risks under more challenging conditions. The continuation of climate change and the ever more frequent occurrence Published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union.
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1969–1972, 2022
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-22-1969-2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Invited perspectives: Challenges and step changes for natural
hazard – perspectives from the German Committee
for Disaster Reduction (DKKV)
Benni Thiebes1, Ronja Winkhardt-Enz1, Reimund Schwarze1,2, and Stefan Pickl1,3
1German Committee for Disaster Reduction (DKKV), 53115 Bonn, Germany
2Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ), 04318 Leipzig, Germany
3Universität der Bundeswehr München, 85577 Neubiberg, Germany
Correspondence: Benni Thiebes (benni.thiebes@dkkv.org)
Received: 28 June 2021 – Discussion started: 9 July 2021
Revised: 10 February 2022 – Accepted: 25 April 2022 – Published: 13 June 2022
1 The German Committee for Disaster Reduction |
Deutsches Komitee für Katastrophenvorsorge e.V.
The German Committee for Disaster Reduction (DKKV) is
the largest platform for disaster risk reduction in Germany
and has been promoting prevention and disaster risk reduc-
tion in science, practice, and politics since the beginning of
the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction in
1990. The overarching leitmotif of the DKKV is the strength-
ening of societal resilience and fostering the exchange and
knowledge transfer between research, operative actions, the
policy level, and the public. The DKKV acts as an umbrella
organization for German institutions and experts in the field
of disaster risk reduction and functions as an intermediary to
national and international networks and initiatives. Students
and recent graduates are involved in the network and can ac-
tively participate in DKKV activities for a reduced member-
ship fee. We hereby aim to empower young professionals and
invite them to contribute to disaster risk reduction through
the use of science, engineering, technology, and innovation
through participation.
As described in Fig. 1, the DKKV is active in three fields,
i.e. (1) networking and fostering exchange between experts
from science, practice, administration, and politics; (2) con-
sulting of decision-makers to provide best practices and ac-
tionable advice to stakeholders; and (3) knowledge manage-
ment and transfer addressing civil society and the general
public to promote prevention measures, e.g. via our web-
site, flyers, and public lectures and workshops. The DKKV
is an active member of national and international networks;
e.g. it acts as the national focal point for IRDR (Integrated
Research on Disaster Risk) and GNDR (Global Network of
Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction), is an ob-
server organisation for the UNFCCC (United Nations Frame-
work Convention on Climate Change), is an active mem-
ber of E-STAG (European Science and Technology Advi-
sory Group), and contributes to networks such as Risk KAN
(Knowledge Action Network on Emergent Risks and Ex-
treme Events) and DERN (Disaster and Emergency Research
Network). The DKKV frequently contributes to research
projects such as MATRIX (FP7), ESPREssO (H2020), and
PLACARD (H2020). Within research projects, the DKKV
generally aims to contribute to communication and dissemi-
nation as well as to tasks which require the synthesis of re-
search results for different stakeholders and communities. At
the same time, this project participation allows the DKKV
to extend and strengthen its network, develop new methods
and approaches (such as serious games), and provide funding
for activities that create synergies between project tasks and
activities that lie in the field of our institutional goals.
2 Challenges for future research and resilience
building
The worldwide challenge of the present as well as the fu-
ture is to navigate the global community to a sustainable
and secure future. Humanity is increasingly facing multiple
risks under more challenging conditions. The continuation
of climate change and the ever more frequent occurrence
Published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union.
1970 B. Thiebes et al.: Challenges and step changes for natural hazards
Figure 1. The main working fields of the DKKV are networking, consulting, and knowledge transfer.
of extreme, multi-hazard, and cascading events are interact-
ing with increasingly complex and interconnected societies.
Natural and technological hazards leading to economic and
non-economic losses call for further research to assist pol-
icy makers and public administration with evidence-based,
precautionary, and actionable information and advice. It is
therefore important for research to focus more on overarch-
ing and synergetic approaches, such as integrating disaster
risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation (CCA), and
complexity science to foster resilience. The strengthening of
resilience, i.e. a system’s (i) absorptive, (ii) adaptive, (iii) an-
ticipative, (iv) preventive, and (v) transformative capacities
to respond to risks and crises (United Nations, 2020), is at
the core of key international frameworks such as the Sustain-
able Development Goals (SDGs) (United Nations, 2015b),
the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (United Nations,
2015a), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction
2015–2030 (SFDRR) (UNDRR, 2015), and the New Urban
Agenda (UN-HABITAT, 2017). Thus, creating synergies in
research and practice is key to strengthening resilience. In
relation to the flood disaster in July 2021, the DKKV has pro-
vided a platform for researchers to enable synergies between
efforts and to avoid duplication of research. In addition to an
expert excursion to the Ahr Valley, a transdisciplinary round
table discussion was organised as well as an online event
open to everyone, where researchers working on the flood
could exchange research ideas and align and complement re-
search activities. Such bottom-up approaches represent and
are important means to facilitate inclusive, integrative, trans-
disciplinary, and synergetic collaboration.
3 Step changes and research needs according to the
priorities of the SFDRR
Targeting the Sendai priorities, a vision paper the DKKV
contributed to, Zuccaro et al. (2018) put forward as a main
outcome of the ESPREssO project and identified research
needs and emerging cross-cutting issues for future research
in DRR and CCA. This is also in line with the IRDR Re-
search Framework for Global Science in support of Risk-
Informed Sustainable Development and Planetary Health
(ISC-UNDRR-IRDR, 2021).
Several step changes in terms of improved understanding
of disaster risk emerge, as displayed in the Table 1 above.
As risk is composed of the elements of hazard, vulnerability,
and exposure, interdisciplinary research with a systemic and
integrative perspective is needed. In this regard, scientifically
addressing all elements of risk is fully consistent with the so-
cietal need for improved risk and impact assessments as well
as improved data for decision-making on a resilient future.
Improved data entails harmonization of data collection, its
effective management, and continuous updating. These are
fundamental for more detailed and advanced simulations and
impact assessments (e.g. Kaewunruen et al., 2021; Losier
et al., 2019; Peichl et al., 2021). Co-creation of knowledge
with all involved actors and communities can increase the
overall awareness of and preparedness for risk through effi-
cient communication and dissemination platforms. A multi-
level approach and data-driven decision-making process are
needed to further strengthen risk governance to manage dis-
aster risk. This implies the effective implementation of com-
munity governance with continuous consultation with im-
pacted communities at the local, national, and international
level. Moreover, at the policy level, existing synergies be-
tween DRR, CCA, and SDGs should be enhanced and ex-
panded, with the aim to improve the legal framework for
sustainable and holistic decision-making. This applies to all
components of the disaster risk management cycle. Equally
important is an international transboundary cooperation for
long-term joint preparedness, adaptation, and mitigation of
risk. The same applies to joint emergency management, re-
sponse coordination, and a sustained recovery. The DKKV
for example is fostering European exchange on transforma-
tions towards a sustainable and resilient future by organis-
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1969–1972, 2022 https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-22-1969-2022
B. Thiebes et al.: Challenges and step changes for natural hazards 1971
Table 1. Step changes and research needs along the priorities of the SFDRR.
Understanding disaster risk Strengthening disaster risk gov-
ernance to manage disaster risk
Investing in disaster reduction
for resilience
Enhancing disaster prepared-
ness for effective response, and
to “Build Back Better” in re-
covery, rehabilitation, and re-
construction
– Interdisciplinary research
with a systemic, integrative
perspective and co-creation of
knowledge
– Improved data management
and information updates as well
as harmonised data, protocols,
and procedures
– Efficient communication and
dissemination platforms
– Strengthening of system’s
(i) absorptive, (ii) adaptive,
(iii) anticipative, (iv) preven-
tive, and (v) transformative
capacities
– Improved knowledge-based
decision-making and trans-
boundary cooperation along the
entire disaster risk management
cycle
– Implementation of com-
munity governance with
continuous consultation with
impacted communities
– Overcoming the implementa-
tion gap in DRR and CCA
– Implementation to dissemi-
nate the best practices experi-
mented
– Country-specific and interna-
tional priorities in a balanced
way
–Improved early warning sys-
tems, both technologically and
organizationally, to enhance
disaster preparedness
– Greater national and inter-
national visibility of success
stories of effective response
and “Build Back Better” in
recovery, rehabilitation, and
reconstruction preparedness
– Improved communication to
the general public
ing events with national platforms from France (Associa-
tion française pour la prévention des catastrophes naturelles
et technologiques, AFPCNT) and Austria (Disaster Compe-
tence Network Austria, DCNA).
In this regard, enhanced partnerships and improved le-
gal frameworks, procedures, and tools represent an impor-
tant step change for knowledge-based decision-making. An
additional step change must be geared toward investing in
DRR for resilience. Due to the multiple emerging risk con-
ditions societies are facing, it is crucial to overcome the im-
plementation gap in DRR and CCA in order to strengthen
resilience. Best practices tested through community action in
DRR and CCA need greater national and international visi-
bility through more effective dissemination and application.
Investing in scientific research and production of knowledge
on natural hazards, vulnerabilities, and exposure will help an-
ticipate and better prepare for increased risk situations and
increase resilience. This is fully consistent with enhancing
disaster preparedness for effective response and with “Build
Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.
To optimize the available resources in an integrative way,
a widespread adoption of “Build Back Better” principles is
essential to allow greater flexibility of measures and actions
for DRR and CCA. Thus, reconstruction after major disas-
ter events, such as the floods in Germany in 2021, requires
scientific advice and assessment of future risks and impacts
to allow for risk-informed and participative decision-making.
As a consequence, two projects on sustainable reconstruction
were recently funded by the German Ministry for Research
and Education. Furthermore, early warning systems need a
step change, both technologically and organizationally, to en-
hance disaster preparedness. Recent positive developments
in Germany include, for example, lowering of the legal barri-
ers for the national government to provide coordination in
regional and state-level disaster events as well as the up-
coming implementation of a cell broadcasting alert system.
Communication with the public represents a crucial factor,
which needs to be improved, considering societal values and
human behaviours while protecting vulnerable communities
and ensuring the transparency in decision-making. Serious
games have proven to be an effective tool for the communica-
tion of complex issues in a playful environment while at the
same time helping to break up silo thinking. The DKKV uses
RAMSETE III (Booth et al., 2020; Fleming et al., 2020) and
other gaming approaches in workshops for decision-makers
and researchers to communicate the challenges of decision-
making under uncertain risk conditions.
As climate change and disasters do not respect politi-
cal borders, developing transboundary international coordi-
nation and cooperation mechanisms that take into account
emerging risks increases the overall resilience.
Data availability. No data sets were used in this article.
Author contributions. All authors were responsible for the concep-
tualisation. BT and RWE wrote the first draft of the paper, and all
authors contributed to the final draft.
Competing interests. The contact author has declared that neither
they nor their co-authors have any competing interests.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-22-1969-2022 Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1969–1972, 2022
1972 B. Thiebes et al.: Challenges and step changes for natural hazards
Disclaimer. Publisher’s note: Copernicus Publications remains
neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and
institutional affiliations.
Special issue statement. This article is part of the special issue
“Perspectives on challenges and step changes for addressing natural
hazards”. It is not associated with a conference.
Review statement. This paper was edited by Uwe Ulbrich and re-
viewed by two anonymous referees.
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Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1969–1972, 2022 https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-22-1969-2022
... Similarly, Aitsi-Selmi et al. (2016a) agree on the gaps in hazard and risk modelling but also identify a need for more efficient risk information sharing and capacity building across different stakeholders. Additional challenges were identified in the NHESS special issue "Perspectives on challenges and step changes for addressing natural hazards" (Kreibich et al., 2022b), for instance, from the perspectives of reinsurance (Rädler, 2022) and specific countries (Germany: Thiebes et al., 2022;Italy: Simonelli et al., 2022;Switzerland: Wabbels and Bezzola, 2022). ...
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Background: To improve railway construction and maintenance, a novel digital twin that helps stakeholders visualize, share data, and monitor the progress and the condition during services is required. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a digitalization tool, which adopts an interoperable concept that benefits the whole life-cycle assessment (LCA) of the project. BIM’s applications create higher performance on cost efficiency and optimal time schedule, helping to reduce any unexpected consumption and waste over the life cycle of the infrastructure. Methods: The digital twin will be developed using BIM embedded by the lifecycle analysis method. A case study based on Taipei Metro (TM) has been conducted to enhance the performance in operation and maintenance. Life cycles of TM will be assessed and complied with ISO14064. Operation and maintenance activities will be determined from official records provided by TM. Material flows, stocks, and potential risks in the LCA are analyzed using BIM quantification embedded by risk data layer obtained from TM. Greenhouse emission, cost consumption and expenditure will be considered for integration into the BIM. Results: BIM demonstrated strong potential to enable a digital twin for managing railway maintenance and resilience. Based on the case study, a key challenge for BIM in Taiwan is the lack of insights, essential data, and construction standards, and thus the practical adoption of BIM for railway maintenance and resilience management is still in the design phase. Conclusions: This study exhibits a practical paradigm of the digital twin for railway maintenance and resilience improvement. It will assist all stakeholders to engage in the design, construction, and maintenance enhancing the reduction in life cycle cost, energy consumption and carbon footprint. New insight based on the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit system is highly valuable for railway industry globally by increasing the lifecycle sustainability and improving resilience of railway systems.
The Importance of Digital Twins for Resilient Infrastructure
  • L.-M Losier
  • R Fernandes
  • R Tabarro
  • F Braunschweig
Losier, L.-M., Fernandes, R., Tabarro, R., and Braunschweig, F.: The Importance of Digital Twins for Resilient Infrastructure, Bentley, https://cdn2.webdamdb.com/md_A6HafPVAhHf0. jpg.pdf (last access: 25 May 2022), 2019.
United Nations: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • G Zuccaro
  • M F Leone
  • C Martucci
  • G Grandjean
sendaiframeworkfordrren.pdf (last access: 25 May 2022), 2015. United Nations: Paris Agreement, https://unfccc.int/sites/default/ files/english_paris_agreement.pdf (last access: 25 May 2022), 2015a. United Nations: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Springer Publishing Company, New York, NY, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/ 21252030AgendaforSustainableDevelopmentweb.pdf (last access: 25 May 2022), 2015b. Zuccaro, G., Leone, M. F., Martucci, C., Grandjean, G., and Lauta, K. C. (Eds.): ESPREssO Vision Paper on future research strategies following the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030, ISBN 978-88-943902-1-6 and ISBN-A 10.978.88943902/16, 2018.