UKRI GCRF Multi-Hazard Urban Disaster Risk Transitions Hub

Tue, 22/01/2019

UKRI GCRF Multi-Hazard Urban Disaster Risk Transitions Hub

The School will lead a new £20 million UKRI GCRF Multi-hazard Urban Disaster Risk Transitions Hub aimed at reducing disaster risk for the poor in tomorrow’s cities.  The Hub will coordinate research and policy teams in Kathmandu, Istanbul, Nairobi and Quito, supported by UK and international scientists. 

It will address a critical development problem. More than two billion people are exposed to floods, earthquakes, landslides, volcanos and cyclones in cities of low-to-middle income countries and this figure is expected to double by 2050. Cities are home to 55% of the global population, account for 70% of global GDP and many argue that the UN sustainable development goals will be won or lost there. Urban systems are expanding rapidly throughout the developing world, and globally 60% of the area expected to be urban by 2030 is yet to be built. This rapid urbanisation, often considered only as a threat, also provides a time-limited opportunity to plan disaster risk out of tomorrow’s cities.

The Hub will enhance sustainable urban development, catalysing a transition from crisis management to disaster risk-informed planning and decision-making in cities in developing countries, through partnerships in and between targeted cities, and globally through collaborating international governance organisations.

The Hub will bring together leading researchers with inspiring community and government leaders and will work at an unprecedented high-resolution to influence planning and to deliver real impact through interdisciplinary research.

Professor John McCloskey, School of GeoSciences, who will be leading the new hub, said:

“Disasters continue to pull vulnerable populations into debt and poverty destroying hard-won development gains for millions. Rapid urbanisation, happening now throughout the global south, represents a one-off opportunity to build disaster risk resilience into new urban planning and provide risk-sensitive environments for the global poor. But we must act now, or we condemn hundreds of millions of tomorrow’s citizens to continued cyclical destruction of their lives and livelihoods.


The scale of this GCRF research investment allows us to grasp this time-limited opportunity and the Hub brings together over 100 scientists, engineers and policy makers, fielding high-quality, international, multi-disciplinary teams to address this currently intractable global challenge. We will work in four major cities, chosen for their existing commitment to building disaster resilience, but intercity learning and collaborations with UN agencies will ensure that the project will be much greater than the sum of its parts.


Historical compromises need not be repeated. The GCRF Hub provides a generational opportunity to change the future for the poor in tomorrow’s cities. We approach this opportunity with massive excitement, enthusiasm and belief.” ” 

Daniel Andrade of EPN Quito – Ecuador’s geophysical hazard monitoring authority said:

‘The main importance of the hub for Quito will be the opportunity to develop studies, connections and cooperation that the city’s stakeholders, scientists and community could not perform on their own. The big expectation is to establish the basis for a new disaster risk management culture in Quito, creating a different future for the city development.’

Eser Çaktı, Head of Department of Earthquake Engineering, Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute in Istanbul said:

 “The Istanbul Hub, will be a platform for the city, and will bring together scientists engineers, administrators and stakeholders to address urban physical and social vulnerabilities. The city is transforming at a fast pace vertically and horizontally and the planned work, including a 3D hazard models for the greater Istanbul area informed by very high-resolution measurements with new generation sensors has never been done before. This research is both scientifically very exciting and practically much needed. We are looking forward to collaborating in this exciting project.”

Joanes Atela from Nairobi’s African Centre for Technology Studies said:

“The hub is timely and relevant for Nairobi. Drawing on robust consultative process with key city stakeholders, the project is need driven. It will link multidisciplinary evidence and decision making to city planning processes and convene dialogues for collective and coordinated action towards transitioning Nairobi from crisis management to risk sensitive development.” 

Murat Nurlu from AFAD, the sole authority for the identification of natural hazards and disaster risk assessment in Turkey said:

“Istanbul is Turkey's largest industrial centre and is prone to multiple hazards especially earthquakes, floods, and landslides, which severely affect development. The collaboration on the joint Project between Turkey-AFAD and GCRF will facilitate actions to reduce exposure to hazards, lessen the vulnerability of people and property, and prevent the unsound development policies which increase disaster risk - and disaster losses.”

Gehendra Gurung from Practical Action in Kathmandu said:

“Disaster risk in the cities is ever growing due to planned and unplanned development that increases both exposure and vulnerability of populations. The GCRF program will strengthen multi-hazard risk assessment to help the decision makers in Kathmandu precisely see the drivers of the risk, and help to identify geographical areas posing risk now and in future development. It will help decision makers to identify and prioritize development options that reduce risk rather than aggravate it, and help sustain this process through policy interventions. The GCRF Hub will vastly improve development decisions in Kathmandu”

Further information

The School has been successful in securing three Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) awards.  The School will lead on the GCRF Multi-Hazard Urban Disaster Risk Transitions Hub; and will work in collaboration with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology to create a GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub; and with the University of Strathclyde to create a GCRF One Oceans Hub.  

The hubs are funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) – which is a key component in delivering the UK AID strategy and puts UK-led research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations sustainable development goals.

UKRI GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub

UKRI GCRF One Ocean Hub


School of GeoSciences to pioneer new Urban Disaster Risk Hub
School of GeoSciences to pioneer new Urban Disaster Risk Hub