Faulty communications – towards a people-centred approach to seismic risk reductionWednesday 16 February, 2022 – Wednesday 16 February, 2022
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Lecture Series 2021-22.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) encourages scientists to participate in bottom-up risk communication approaches that directly engage hazard-prone populations. Effective communication of seismic risks not only has economic impacts in terms of hazard mitigation but also provides social value in potentially empowering the marginalized populations that disproportionately live in high-risk areas. This emphasis on community-focused disaster preparedness, however, presents a novel set of communication challenges for geoscientists. Few scientists have training in or experience of translating their science for lay publics, and conveying complex risk information is especially difficult in circumstances where scientific issues are socially contested and politically charged. Recognising that disaster threats can create troublesome information battlegrounds, this paper explores the ethical and practical aspects of seismic risk communication, motivated by an early-career earth scientists’ workshop in Istanbul that voiced the concerns of young geoscientists confronted firsthand by at-risk publics. Those concerns form the basis of a wider review of the risk communication issues that are likely to be encountered if community-centred participatory DRR approaches are to be adopted by earthquake science researchers.
About the speaker
Iain Stewart is the El Hassan bin Talal Research Chair in Sustainability at the Royal Scientific Society (Amman, Jordan), Visiting Professor in Environmental Studies at Ashoka University, India, and Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth. The founding director of the University of Plymouth’s ‘Sustainable Earth Institute’, Iain’s long-standing research interests are in natural hazards, sustainable geoscience, and earth science communication. His geo-communication work has built on a 15 year partnership with BBC television presenting geoscience programmes (notably ‘Earth: The Power of the Planet’, ‘Earth: The Climate Wars’, ‘How Earth Made Us’, ‘How To Grow A Planet’, ‘The Rise of the Continents’ and ‘Planet Oil’) and recently was academic advisor on the BBC’s acclaimed landmark series ‘Severn Worlds, One Planet’. Awarded an MBE for his services to geography and geology education, he is President of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, was the Communications Lead and Evidence Chair for the Scottish Climate Assembly, and holds a UNESCO Chair in Geoscience and Society.