Keynote Speaker: Professor Lindsey McEwen

University of the West of England, the UK
Department of Geography and Environmental Management

Increasing small business resilience to flood risks: working to shift the discourse from short-term contingency planning to longer-term adaptation?

Professor Lindsey McEwen, Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience, University of the West of England, Bristol.

Small businesses (SMEs) are critical for the functioning of the UK economy, with a combined annual turnover of £2.0 trillion, representing 52% of all private sector turnover. They are also disproportionately affected by floods, so urgent need exists to find ways to increase business flood resilience. This requires constructing new approaches to evaluating small businesses’ resilience strategies, and developing innovative learning resources that promote behaviour change so enabling businesses to prepare better for future floods. This talk will share outcomes from the interdisciplinary UK SESAME project*, promoting SME adaptation to flood risk ( This research had two phases. First, it explored how business people talk about floods, business continuity and longer-term adaptation, the motivators and barriers for small business adaptation to flood risk, and the knowledge, knowledge networks and brokers that small businesses use in building flood resilience. Second, evidence from this research fed into development of a co-produced SESAME’s prototype-learning tool (www. to promote small business adaptation to flood risk. The talk will share learning from that research and development process. It concludes with some reflections on how this work fed into UK government thinking on small businesses resilience (e.g. BERG), and current agendas for SMEs in wider extreme weather adaptation (including droughts) and in building wider climate resilience.

*The SESAME project was funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.


Keynote Speaker: Professor Peter Head

Global Risk Assessment Framework with UNDRR; GRAF/GAR advisory board
GAR19 -Moving beyond ‘disaster’ risk to comprehensive systems risk reduction and management in city regions.
By Prof Peter R Head CBE FREng FRSA Chairman and founder of Resilience Brokers
• Introduction to the latest UNDRR Global Assessment Report (GAR19) and how it moves beyond disaster risk to consider the pluralistic nature of risk: in multiple dimensions, at multiple scales and with multiple impacts.
• A critical conclusion is that the risks we face are more and more integrated but the responses to them are more fragmented which is a recipe for disaster unless action is taken.
• The approaches needed to strengthen the capacity of people, communities, city-regions and systems to withstand and bounce back from shocks, persist through stresses and transform through crises.
• Tackling the need to incentivize transdisciplinary, integrated, multisectoral risk assessment and decision-making to improve efficiency, reduce duplication of effort and allow for connected, collective action.
• The importance of data availability and quality plus statistical capacity building to enable collaboration and synergies across increasingly complex data systems. Integration of DRR targets and indicators with those for the SDGs are needed not just at national but at the city region scale.
• Investments in cities need to be risk assessed and impacts aligned with the targets and indicators.


Keynote Speaker: Dr Koen van Dam

Imperial College London, the UK

Title: Using simulation models in stakeholder engagement towards resilient and sustainable urban infrastructure planning

By considering infrastructure as complex adaptive systems, simulation models can be developed to explore the relationships between technical and social components in the system and evaluate various scenarios and potential interventions. This is particularly important in cities, where utility networks have to be designed and managed in a highly constrained and challenging environment, but this approach can also be applied to different spatial scales such as the district or national scale. Simulation models can then be used to facilitate the planning and operation of more resilient and sustainable systems under a range of risk scenarios, but also to engage with stakeholders to collaboratively explore what-if scenarios and compare designs and actions. Visualisation platforms play a key role in making the insights accessible and relatable, so that challenges around managing risks and sustainable planning can be addressed in a collaborative and iterative way with the support of a wide community. This presentation will use examples from energy, water and transport sectors to show how simulation models support stakeholder engagement.


Keynote Speaker: Celina Kretkowska-Adamowicz

Polish Humanitarian Action/Polska Akcja Humanitarna (PAH)

Program Coordinator
Polish Humanitarian Action Mission in Somalia


Title: Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction in development programming – how to successfully implement DRR?
PAH Kenya project: Livelihoods improvements through integrated and environmental friendly employment development in South Kenya.

  • CMDRR approach based on Sendai framework
  • PAH DRR programming in Kenya.