Delft, The Netherlands, 15 Apr 2015

AXA Research Fund climate risks workshop: fostering the role of science in the climate change debate

On 1 and 2 April, Rosh Ranasinghe, Professor of Climate Change Impacts and Coastal Risk at UNESCO-IHE and holder of an AXA Chair participated in the annual celebration of the AXA Research Fund in Paris. In addition, he gave a masterclass to Sciences Po Paris students and took part in one of the 6 round tables on 'Reliability & application of (local) modelling' and led the debate on sea level rise and extreme weather events.

The purpose of the AXA Research Fund annual ceremony is to celebrate new initiatives for the coming year. 44 projects were launched and the AXARF has committed 15 million Euro for partnerships with leading academic institutions. UNESCO-IHE's Rosh Ranasinghe was part of the last year’s promotion of Chairs in the Environmental risks theme.

The main focus of Prof. Ranasinghe's AXA Chair programme at UNESCO-IHE is the development of modelling tools and methods to better understand and predict climate change driven hazards in the coastal zone and quantitative coastal risk assessment technique. It is anticipated that the models/tools developed, which will be geared to serve the needs of emerging risk informed coastal zone management/planning frameworks, will be directly used in UNESCO-IHE's capacity development initiatives around the world.

As a side event to the AXARF annual ceremony, a series of debates were arranged on the 1st of April at Sciences Po, Paris in the frame of its COP21 Make It Work initiative. At this event, Prof. Ranasinghe led the debate on 'Sea level rise and extreme weather events' which was attended by staff and post graduate students of Science Po and international visitors. "It was a very interactive session, the participants were very interested in the research we do at UNESCO-IHE and how we translate it to 'on the ground' solutions," says Rosh Ranasinghe.

On the next day, the 'AXA Climate Risks workshop on Fostering the role of science in the climate change debate' took place. The idea behind the workshop was to help inform the public discussion about climate change in the run-up to the COP21 conference in November 2015. In addition, the workshops aimed to stimulate further actions by the scientific community to bring about change.

The workshop was comprised of 6 roundtables focusing on different climate change related topics. Prof. Ranasinghe participated in the round table on 'reliability & application of (local) modelling'. The panel focused on the scientific challenges of data availability, multi-scale modelling, tensions between decision-making and event-occurrence probabilities, as well as local versus global impacts triggered by decisions.

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