Tuesday, February 19, 2019
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E-ZUANA: Vulnerability and Risk Assessment of Urban Areas exposed to Natural and Anthropogenic Threats

E-ZUANA, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment of Urban Areas exposed to Natural and Anthropogenic Threats, is a project funded by MINECO where CIMNE participates. It started on 1st January 2017 and its main objective is to propose methodologies to evaluate vulnerability and risks which provide useful results for decision making in disaster risk management in urban areas of Spain. M. Liliana Carreño, the Principal Investigator at CIMNE of the project, explain in the interview the main lines of action of E-ZUANA and how is possible to prevent a natural disaster using numerical methods.

-The main objective of the project is the risk assessment focused on security, protection and defense of the population. How is possible to prevent a natural disasters using numerical methods?

The objectives of this project are focused on developing the scientific-technical understanding of catastrophe risk and disaster risk management in Spain with the aim of supporting a comprehensive decision-making process related to the prevention and mitigation of socio-economic losses due to disasters triggered by earthquakes and open air explosions, setting up a methodology that allows a integration of risk analyses that consider hazards of different origin using a compatible approach in the vulnerability and risk assessment components. The main objective of the project is to propose methodologies to evaluate vulnerability and risks which provide useful results for decision making in disaster risk management in urban areas of Spain. In order to achieve it, the evaluation will not focus only in the physical dimension of vulnerability, but will take into account the social and economic ones. Based on the obtained results, the project will propose a set of risk reduction strategies for the case studies and this information will be useful to disaster risk managers for the development of disaster risk prevention, mitigation and schemes increasing the overall resilience of the urban spaces.

 -This project has the aim to be tranversal to give decision making support and avoid the consequences of disasters giving solutions from different disciplines…

The risk evaluation will involve not only the estimation of the potential physical losses, but also the social vulnerability and resilience aspects of the community. That means that risk evaluation is a multidisciplinary process. This integrated approach for disaster risk management has been applied for different risk studies in the last 15 years, but only recently has been internationally adopted for disaster risk studies funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).


-How participate decision makers in this collaborative work?

The project results will provide valuable information to decision makers and stakeholders for the proper development of comprehensive disaster risk management strategies with the main goal of increasing the resilience of urban areas. With the obtained results for the pilot urban areas, a set of strategies related to the risk reduction field are to be assessed leading to the recommendation of the most suitable ones.

-Granada, Melilla (seismic risk) and Barcelona (explosions) are the cities chosen for the research...Is there any particular reason for this choice?

Spain is has different seismic prone areas and, in recent times, disasters with different origins have caused important consequences to the exposed population as well as to the built stock and, therefore, actions regarding risk identification and mitigation are important to be implemented in order to catch up with the objectives and priorities of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction of the United Nations.

Panoramic view of Barcelona

Detonations can be a significant risk in urban areas and can occur due to different reasons like, for example, when flammable products are being transported for processing or distribution, due to terrorist actions or as a secondary result of a natural event (e.g. fires in gas networks following an earthquake). Therefore, its cost-effective mitigation requires an initial quantification of the risk conditions in order to decide for expensive and punctual interventions such as the use of meta-elastic materials that have the capability of absorbing the blast energy or the development of sustainable and resilience urban plans that can provide a wider coverage at a lower economic cost.

The cities of Granada and Melilla have been selected due to the seismic activity registered at these areas. The seismic risk for the city of Barcelona was studied in a previews national project, COPASRE, and in the European projects RISK-UE (EVK4-CT-2000-00014) and MOVE (FP7 211590). The study of the explosion risk for Barcelona was initiated in the DESURBS project (FP7 261652). The new project E-ZUANA will complement the achievements accomplished in the previews research projects.

-The objective of the project is aligned with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction of the United Nations, serving as a specific milestone for Spain in terms of compliance. Could you explain with more detail how will be applied the results of your research?

The Sendai Framework define four priorities for action taking  into  account  the  experience  gained  through  the  implementation  of the Hyogo Framework for Action, and in pursuance of the expected outcome and goal:

  • Priority 1: Understanding disaster risk.
  • Priority 2: Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk.
  • Priority 3: Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience.
  • Priority 4: Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The priority 1 states that “policies and practices for disaster risk management should be based on an understanding of disaster risk in all its dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, exposure of persons and assets, hazard characteristics and the environment. Such knowledge can be leveraged for the purpose of pre- disaster  risk  assessment,  for  prevention  and  mitigation  and  for  the  development  and implementation of appropriate preparedness and effective response to disasters.”

The E-ZUANA project complies with this priority. The results which will be obtained will be useful for the decision making process of disaster risk management. The development of urban risk assessments and their comprehensive analysis, besides quantifying the losses in monetary and mortality terms, will provide useful and understandable information for decision makers at the local level. It is assumed that this better understanding is a benefit for the population of the studied areas and also to the national government.

Panoramic view of Granada

Principal investigator: M. Liliana Carreño

Civil Engineer (1999) and M.Sc. in Structural Engineering (2001) by the University of Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. Doctor in Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics (2006) by the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) in Barcelona, Spain. After the completion of my Doctorate studies I have been actively working as a researcher in the field of disaster risk evaluation and management. She worked from 2006 to 2008 in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Washington DC, as a Research Fellow in the field of the Disaster Risk Management. In this position, she was in charge of the design, promotion and review of projects related to technical cooperation in different countries of the Latin-American and Caribbean region.

Currently, she is a researcher of the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE) from 2008, working in various research lines related to integrated disaster risk assessment and risk management. She is also Adjunct Professor at the UPC from 2009. Her teaching activity is focused in the field of Structural Dynamics and Seismic Risk Evaluation for civil engineering Master students. Since 2007 she has been supervisor of six Doctoral Thesis. She is author of 17 papers in indexed scientific journals, 6 chapters in books, 6 monographs, and more than 30 communications in international conferences. She has been Principal Investigator of two projects founded by the Spanish Government. Se has also participated in several projects funded by the European Commission, and research contracts for the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UN-ISDR). Her current research fields are: integral evaluation of disaster risk at different levels; seismic risk evaluation; and evaluation of the disaster risk management performance. Se has been awarded with the Beatriu de Pinos post-doctoral grant of the Agency for Management of University and Research Grants of the Generalitat de Catalunya (2008-2010).