The European Union (EU) launched the two research projects in order to develop risk management strategies and tools for weather and water-related extreme events and to increase the resilience of coastal communities.
Coastal floods are one of the most dangerous and harmful of all natural hazards – as was demonstrated by the deadly tsunami-like storm surge from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November 2013. Rapid urbanization in coastal areas combined with climate change, especially sea level rise, and inadequate flood management policies has increased risks.
While forecasting and prediction are keys to support end-to-end risk management, of equal importance is the organizational ability to issue authoritative warnings and ensure that emergency managers and the wider population acts on these warnings. Currently there is insufficient interaction between technical measures, institutional support and wider social mobilization and community awareness.
To overcome these shortcomings, PEARL aims to develop adaptive risk management strategies for coastal communities through a multi-disciplinary approach integrating social, environmental and technical research and innovation. This is in line with the mission of the joint WMO/Global Water Partnership’s Associated Programme on Flood Management, which is participating in PEARL. Acting as a hub for the exchange of information and know-how on flood management, the Associated Programme will be responsible for the PEARL Work Package on Dissemination and Outreach. It will also provide examples of good practice in coastal flood management through the PEARL network.
Implemented by a consortium of 24 partners led by the UNESCO Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE), PEARL is scheduled to last four years. The project will examine seven case studies from across the EU and five from outside the EU in order to develop a holistic risk reduction framework that can identify multi-stressor risk assessment and risk cascading processes. This framework will strengthen risk governance by enabling an active role for key actors.
WMO is also participating in RISC-KIT, a project on low-frequency, high-impact hydro-meteorological events to run until 2017. Coordinated by the Deltares (the Netherland), the 18 RISC-KIT partners (from 10 countries and 2 international organizations) will deliver ready-to-use methods, tools and management approaches to reduce risk and increase resilience. They will develop an open-source RISC-KIT free-ware that will consist of:
- a Coastal Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF), which can quickly assess present and future hot spot areas of coastal risk at a region scale due to multi-hazards;
- a quantitative, high-resolution Early Warning Systems/Decision Support System for use on these hot spots.
- a web-based management guide offering innovative, cost-effective, ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction measures; and
- a Coastal Risk Database of present and historic socio-economic and physical data.
These tools will enable Europe’s coastal managers, decision-makers and stakeholders to identify hot spot areas; produce timely forecasts and early warnings; evaluate the effect of climate-related, socioeconomic and cultural changes on coastal risk; and choose the best prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures for their coast.
Through the RISC-KIT, WMO is working with other partners on a case study (Sandwip Island, Bangladesh) to demonstrate the applicability of the CRAF to non-European environments, adding to the hydro-meteorological data collection. The RISC-KIT will be implemented in close coordination with the Bangladesh national sub-project for WMO Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project (CIFDP-B).