Highlights from University of Hawai‘i’s Participation in the United Nations Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

Principal Investigator: Dr. Karl Kim

University of Hawai’i Team: Dr. Lily Bui, Dr. Jiwnath Ghimire, Charles Ham

From May 23-28, 2022, the United Nations Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) took place in Bali, Indonesia. The meeting is a global, multi-stakeholder forum to review progress on the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Scholars, researchers, and practitioners gathered to share and discuss the challenges and opportunities to build just and resilient communities in the face of climate change, natural and technological hazards, and other complex threats. 

The University of Hawai‘i (UH) participated in events at and around the GPDRR in a number of ways. Through UH, the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center and Pacific Urban Resilience Lab contributed to policy, planning, and research discourse on building back better and increasing capacity with stronger inclusion of the “whole community” during disaster recovery. The GPDRR afforded UH the opportunity to deepen ongoing, years-long relationships with higher education institutions and communities in Indonesia.

Photo: (left to right) Dr. Lily Bui, University of Hawaii; Prof. I Nyoman Gde Antara, Rector of University of Udayana; Prof. Karl Kim, University of Hawaii; Prof. Nyoman Suarsana, University of Udayana; Dr. Dewi Wirastuti, University of Udayana at the Scientific Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction

1 | University of Hawai‘i and University of Udayana Co-Host Scientific Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction in Bali, Indonesia (25 May 2022)

The University of Hawai‘i Department of Urban & Regional Planning and the University of Udayana co-hosted a Scientific Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction. Approximately 170 researchers, scholars, and practitioners across urban planning, social sciences, engineering, public health, and a host of other disciplines participated in person at the Udayana Jimbaran campus and online via WebEx. 

Keynote speeches covered a range of topics, from disaster preparedness for space-related threats, to leveraging technology for disaster response decision support, to misinformation during the pandemic, to localized disaster risk reduction and capacity building efforts in Indonesia and the Asia Pacific Region. Keynote speakers included Prof. I Nyoman Gde Antara, Rector of University of Udayana; Prof. Karl Kim, Professor of Urban & Regional Planning, University of Hawaii; Prof. Brian Wolshon, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Louisiana State University; Chris Chiesa, MS, MBA, Deputy Executive Director, Pacific Disaster Center (PDC); Ir. Harkunti Pertiwi Rahayu, PhD., Chairwoman of Ikatan Ahli Kebencanaan Indonesia (IABI); Professor Van Romero, Vice President of Research & Economic Development at New Mexico Tech; and His Excellency Husain Sjah, the Sultan of Tidore.

The Scientific Forum featured presentations from Indonesian, U.S., and Asia/Pacific higher education institutions engaged with new technologies and strategies for workforce development and community- and university-based initiatives to support disaster risk reduction. Researchers, scholars, and students presented on disaster response and recovery, training and capacity building, cross-sectoral engagement and measurement of progress towards the achievement of resilience goals and objectives. Given Indonesia’s exposure to volcano, storms, earthquake, tsunami, flooding, landslide, drought, wildfire, typhoons, and the pandemic, the forum was meant to be a platform for university-to-university, peer-to-peer knowledge exchange. Forum sessions focused on the following topics in disaster risk reduction:

  • What workforce development, education, and training gaps exist?
  • How can climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction governance be more equitable?
  • How can technology be harnessed to better support whole of community resilience?

Ginger Porter, program coordinator for the Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Certificate Program at the University of Hawai‘i, chaired the session focused on collaborative workforce education and training. Tafaimamao Tua-Tupuola, American Samoa University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, presented her work on the Emergency Management Program and Leadership Opportunity for Youth (EMPLOY) during a session focused on vulnerable populations in remote island communities. Other presentations highlighted the importance of innovating green infrastructure and nature-based solutions as alternative strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation.

Photo: (left to right) Nicole Boothman-Shepard, AECOM; Fajar Shidiq, INVEST DM; Dr. Lily Bui, University of Hawaii; Professor Karl Kim, University of Hawaii; Andrew Duncan, INVEST DM; Charles Ham, University of Hawaii at the Innovation Platform Booth at the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

2 | Innovation Platform at the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (24-26 May 2022)

The University of Hawai‘i was one of the only universities to have been invited to the GPDRR Innovation Platform. In collaboration with partners at AECOM and the Investing in Human Capital for Disaster Management (INVEST DM) initiative, a collaborative partnership between the United States Government (USG) and the Government of Indonesia (GoI), the University of Hawai‘i coordinated various presentations at the Innovation Platform exhibition booth at the UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. 

Presentations were organized around one central theme, “Remote Island Risk Reduction: Governance, Risk Communications, and Engagement to Leave No One Behind” and took place between 24-26 May. Talks featured at the platform covered four key sub-themes: (1) Nature-based solutions, (2) Technology, Risk Communication, and Early Warning, (3) Governance Innovations, and (4) Community Members as Change Agents to Leave No One Behind.

3 | Building Local Capacity: Mt. Agung Training on Volcano Risk and Hazard Mitigation (27 May 2022)

The key to building resilience involves increasing local capacity - working with local district management, provincial and municipal authorities, and traditional leaders. While in Bali, researchers from the University of Hawai‘i and University of Udayana sought to develop local relationships and connections through capacity building opportunities. Both institutions visited the Pos Pemantauan Gunung Api Agung (Mount Agung Volcano Observatory). Scientists and disaster managers at the observatory briefed visitors on warning, detection, and monitoring technology in use at the facility. 

Professor Karl Kim from the University of Hawai‘i and Dr. Abd. Rahman As-syakur from the University of Udayana provided a brief training on volcano risk and hazard mitigation to an audience of approximately 50 individuals, including regional disaster managers and community members living with volcano risk. 

Photo: Professor Karl Kim gives a brief preparedness training on Hawaiian volcano disasters to Mt. Agung regional disaster managers and community members.

All disasters begin as local events, which overwhelm emergency services and require mutual aid, assistance, and resources from the outside. Risk reduction requires strong relationships between individuals, groups, and institutions to effectively help people and places prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. These events successfully brought together planning practitioners, researchers, and scholars in Bali to tackle the challenges around climate change, disaster risk reduction, public health, and social equity in the Asia Pacific Region and beyond.