NERC building resilience projects showcased at Commonwealth summit

16 April 2018

Researchers helping to boost resilience to natural disasters in developing countries using innovative risk financing schemes showcased their work today as part of the Commonwealth summit.

Flooded street

The projects showcased at the Commonwealth summit side event aim to build resilience in developing countries hit by natural disasters such as flooding

Developing countries are the worst hit by extreme weather and natural disasters across the globe. Whether at risk from flooding, droughts or tropical cyclones, natural disasters can devastate lives and livelihoods, set back progress on reducing poverty and slow development.

Improved disaster risk management is essential to unlocking long-term economic development. It is not possible to know exactly when a disaster will strike, but science can give a good idea of the likelihood and impact of natural hazards, helping to plan, build resilience and importantly, move towards pre-arranged financing for response and recovery. This approach can save lives and money.

Funded jointly by NERC, the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), the Building Resilience to Natural Disasters using Financial Instruments programme is an £1·8 million investment led by seven UK universities to explore how research in environmental and social sciences can underpin the development of disaster risk financing schemes. Researchers will work closely with partners including insurance companies, disaster risk management authorities and charities.

NERC Director of Research & Innovation Professor Tim Wheeler said:

We know that acting early can drastically reduce the impact of natural disasters in the developing world, saving lives and livelihoods, and improve the effectiveness of disaster response. Our collaborative projects will bring the latest environmental science to support disaster preparedness and strengthen the development of disaster risk financing systems, helping countries respond and recover when they are hit by natural disasters.

The work is funded through the UK government's Global Challenges Research Fund. It will support the newly established Centre for Global Disaster Protection which works with developing countries to strengthen pre-disaster planning, embed early action and use disaster risk financing to speed response and recovery to natural disasters.

NERC staff and researchers attended the Commonwealth Summit side-event convened by DIFD, the World Bank Group and the Centre for Global Disaster Protection and hosted by Lloyd's of London. The event focused on how innovations in finance can support resilience in developing countries. It was attended by Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Secretary of State for International Development, and Dame Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd's of London.

NERC Senior Programme Manager Dr Ruth Hughes was joined by Dr Ross Maidment, Earth observation core scientist at the University of Reading, Dr Liam Fernand, researcher at CEFAS and Professor Martin Todd, professor of climate change at the University of Sussex, to highlight the potential positive impacts of the projects to a range of senior officials and experts.

Further information

Mary Goodchild
NERC News & Media Officer
01793 411939
07710 147485


1. The projects funded are:

  • Satellite data for Weather Index Insurance-Agricultural Early warning system (SatWIN-ALERT), led by Dr Emily Black at the University of Reading.
  • The Drought Risk finance Science Laboratory (DRiSL), led by Professor Martin Todd at the University of Sussex
  • Mitigating basis risk in weather index-based crop insurance: harnessing models and big data to enable climate-resilient agriculture in India, led by Dr Timothy Foster at the University of Manchester
  • Improving the Role of Information Systems in Anticipatory Disaster Risk Reduction (IRIS), led by Professor Lenny Smith at the London School of Economics
  • Integrated Threshold Development for Parametric Insurance Solutions for Guangdong Province China (INPAIS), led by Dr Gregor Leckebusch at the University of Birmingham
  • Coastal Ecosystem Recovery Financing for the Future (CERFF): developing insurance products to enhance response and recovery from tropical cyclones, led by Professor Piran White at the University of York
  • Financial planning for natural disasters: the case of flooding risk in Central Java, led by Professor Alistair Milne at Loughborough University.

For full details of these projects visit our live online grants browser - Grants on the Web (GOTW)

View live details of projects - external link

2. NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. From 1 April 2018, NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

3. The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) supports cutting-edge research and innovation that addresses the global issues faced by developing countries. It harnesses the expertise of the UK's world-leading researchers, focusing on: funding challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research; strengthening capability for research, innovation and knowledge exchange; and providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research or on-the-ground need. It is a £1·5 billion fund which forms part of the UK government's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment and is overseen by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 17 delivery partners including UKRI, the UK Academies, the UK Space Agency and funding bodies.