By Daniel Hunter

A new Foresight project investigating how to improve anticipation of and resilience to disasters is being announced by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington.

The project ‘Improving Future Disaster Anticipation and Resilience’ will identify actions that could be taken within the next 10 years to reduce the impacts of disasters arising from hazards up to the year 2040. It will call on industry and academic expertise from the UK and explore how emerging science and technology might improve our ability to prepare for and respond to these impacts.

The project is part of the Government’s response to Lord Ashdown’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Review commissioned by the Department for International Development. It is focussed on disasters that occur outside of developed countries, particularly in politically or economically fragile states, and will look at hazards including earthquakes, floods and droughts.

Speaking at the Royal Geographical Society today, Professor Sir John Beddington will say:

“Internationally and domestically there is increasing concern for the destructive power of disasters, and science and evidence have a critical role to play in helping us predict and prepare for this.

“This project will build on the UK’s leading role in natural hazard and disaster research. It will help UK Government become more effective and efficient in dealing with disasters and will advance the work of major international organisations.”

Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development said:

"Global disasters are increasing in scale and complexity. They affect millions of people often in the world's poorest countries. By preparing better for future disasters we can save many more lives, and also save the British taxpayer money in the long run.

"This new Foresight project will bring together, for the first time, key UK Government Departments and the international humanitarian community to identify how scientific evidence can strengthen anticipation and resilience to global disasters, so that Britain can continue to be a world leader in disaster response."

This project is the first of Foresight’s new ‘Policy Futures’ projects. These are a shorter kind of Foresight project that will help UK policy makers deliver key agendas by providing futures and evidence analysis to fill a specific gap in existing understanding. The project will report its findings by the end of 2012.

The project will be guided by a group of experts from a range of disciplines, and will be informed by the best current research across the physical sciences, health, social sciences and economics. Its findings will help UK and international policy-makers navigate a challenging and uncertain future.

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