University of Reading partners with Red Cross Red Crescent ‘to prepare people globally for climate risks’
by the University of Reading
(This story appeared first yesterday on the news website of the University of Reading.)
Reading climate scientists are playing a growing role in international aid and helping to prepare people globally for climate risks through a new partnership. The University of Reading and the Climate Centre have made the joint appointment of Dr Liz Stephens as Associate Professor in Climate Risks and Resilience in the Department of Meteorology.
This joint post follows a successful secondment and recognizes the need for closer working between the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and academic partners, supporting the growing area of research and practice to support forecast-based action.
Climate Centre Director Maarten van Aalst said: “I am pleased that Dr Stephens is taking on this new joint role. This appointment will extend our ability to bring through the latest scientific research, evidence and understanding into anticipatory action, as well as supporting learning and development within the growing anticipatory action community.”
Professor Dominik Zaum, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Reading, said: “Reading plays an important and growing role in directly responding to climate change. This new partnership will strengthen our existing work with the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, which does such important work providing humanitarian aid to people around the world who need it most.”
‘Our joint work has already grown
scientific understanding and,
more importantly, helped to save lives
in the face of climate emergencies’
The University of Reading has already worked closely with Red Cross societies in countries such as Mozambique, Peru and Uganda.
Scientists from Reading have helped to deliver early warnings for extreme-weather events such as storms and floods, allowing vital aid to be delivered to affected people before a disaster occurs.
This allows people to reach safety, protect their homes and livelihoods, and have access to food and water, with help arriving before roads and other communications links are cut.
Reading scientists have also advised the UK government and others in directing aid to flood-hit regions, including during recent devastating tropical storms in Honduras and Mozambique, and large-scale flooding in Bangladesh.
Dr Stephens is a hydrologist and previously worked in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Reading. She said: “I’m excited to be continuing and extending the important link between the Red Cross Red Crescent and the scientific community, and I look forward to working alongside some of the world’s leading weather, climate and earth observation experts at Reading’s Department of Meteorology.
“Our joint work has already grown scientific understanding and, more importantly, helped to save lives in the face of climate emergencies.
“I look forward to helping shape impactful research agendas and growing partnerships around the world, bringing the best science directly to the front line in the fight against the impacts of climate change.”
This post is the first between the Climate Centre and a UK university, following from existing relationships with institutions in, for example, the US and the Netherlands.
Caroline Zastiral, Disaster Risk Reduction and Early Action Adviser with the International Directorate of the British Red Cross, said: “Climate change is impacting people right now and these kind of partnerships which bring scientists and humanitarian experts together are crucial to save lives and protect livelihoods through more accurate early warning and early action.
“The British Red Cross has been supporting people in crisis for over 150 years, whoever and wherever they are – including those caught up in climate-related emergencies such as floods, heatwaves, droughts, storms and more.
“These emergencies are on the rise and the British Red Cross is working hard to ensure every community is able to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impact of climate change.”
Dr Liz Stephens discusses flood risk in Iquitos, Peru, with Mathieu Destrooper from the German Red Cross in October 2015. (Photo: University of Reading)