“Climate change is the change in state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. As such, it may be due to natural internal process or external forcings, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or land use” (IPCC, 2012). It is already affecting the frequency and intensity of natural hazards, mainly weather-related ones, while at the same time increases the vulnerability and diminishes the resilience of populations and societies (UNISDR, 2015). Specific parts of the globe are being disproportionally affected by the impacts of climate change and potential disaster risk, as a combination of numerous factors, including socio-economical, environmental and institutional ones.
The Project aims to support Partner Countries of Region 6 (Asia) to improve their capacity to provide academic offers that will appropriately prepare the new generation to use geomatics for disaster risk reduction. As already established, climate change impacts on both the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters, while reduces resilience that can increase vulnerability in all kinds of natural hazards. Reducing disaster risk can, thus, contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, especially in countries of the South-east Asia which are already among the most vulnerable, globally, to climate change.
The Philippines, considered one the most disaster-risk prone countries in the world, ranks 9th in 180 countries, as calculated in the World Risk Index of 2019. The particularity of Philippines is that due to its position right above the tectonic plate boundary, the country is highly exposed to geophysical hazards, mainly earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and subsequently tsunamis. Such low-frequency but high impact phenomena are not preventable, but their impact can be substantially mitigated through earlier prediction, more resilient infrastructure, emergency preparedness of communities, and efficient response systems. Such is also the case for typhoons, the most common and destructive natural hazard for Philippines (Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance, 2018). In that end, various frameworks and plans have been adopted the past years, including the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan 2011-2028, highlighting the role of earth observation sciences in disaster prevention and mitigation. Nevertheless, even though Philippines’ number of HEIs is almost ten times more than this of neighboring countries, according to the Philippine National Development Plan the country performs poorly in producing “solution providers”, people who would be able to effectively deal with current societal needs. This comes as a result of curricula inadequacy to bridge the gap between what society needs and what HEIs can offer. Thus, HEIs are in grave need of inculcating the capacity to develop and deliver programmes that match the requirements of our times, both in qualitative and quantitative terms. Particular focus should be placed on teaching and learning processes in HEIs to ensure that graduates are highly-skilled in information technologies, technical fields and problem solving (World Bank, 2012). The country incorporated in its strategy for the future the need for highly-educated human resources that can produce knowledge and facilitate sustainable development, especially caring for disadvantaged and marginalized groups of the society that are disproportionally affected by current challenges. With this in mind, the program aims to develop a masteral program in GeoDRR in Asian partner countries. This runs from Nov. 2020 until Nov. 2023 for three years with funding support from Erasmus+ program of the European Commission.