June 21, 2022 Revised
The mission of ICHARM is to serve as the Global Centre of Excellence for Water Hazard and Risk Management by, inter alia, observing and analyzing natural and social phenomena, developing methodologies and tools, building capacities, creating knowledge networks, and disseminating lessons and information in order to assist governments and all stakeholders in managing risks of water-related hazards at global, national, and community levels. The hazards to be addressed include floods, droughts, landslides, debris flows, tsunamis, storm surges, water contamination, and snow and ice disasters.
We envision a Center of Excellence housing a group of leading experts, superior facilities, and a knowledge base, which conducts (1) innovative research, (2) effective capacity building, and (3) efficient information networking. Based on these three pillars, ICHARM will globally serve as a knowledge hub for best national and local practices and a policy-making advisor, keeping in mind respect for diversity and inclusion of all stakeholders.
The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development stresses the transition to a sustainable and resilient path. The UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction highlights four priority areas. Both aim to achieve their goals by 2030. The ninth phase of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP-IX), which aims to establish adequate capacity and scientifically-based knowledge for informed decision-making on water management and governance to attain sustainable development and build resilient societies, has identified five priority areas and started activities in research and education, which will continue for eight years until 2029. The sixth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change addresses linkages between mitigation, adaptation, and sustainable development.
In Japan, in an effort to address increasingly intense water-related disasters as the climate changes, a group of experts recommended reviewing conventional flood control planning based on the findings of advanced climate science and proposed shifting to “River Basin Disaster Resilience and Sustainability by All,” a new flood control approach aiming to enhance communities’ resilience to water disasters and their sustainability. In response to the proposal, the national government has reformed the legal framework and planned investment strategies. River administrators around the nation have started revising long-term river management policies and rewriting mid-term river improvement plans. At the same time, the national government has adopted Society 5.0, a new science promotion policy, creating the Digital Agency and accelerating digital transformation in society.
As one of the research groups of the Public Works Research Institute, which has led technological development to protect human lives and assets from severe water-related disasters for over a century, ICHARM will contribute to achieving “River Basin Disaster Resilience and Sustainability by All” by creating and sharing scientific knowledge to enhance both resilience and sustainability and strengthening society’s disaster coping capacity. In parallel, we will implement the goals of the IHPIX five priority areas and assist nations around the world in achieving the targets of the 2030 Agenda and the Sendai Framework by enhancing our international information network to better understand water-related disasters in regions and nations, training human resources who can contribute to building a resilient, sustainable society, and sharing scientific knowledge learned from Japan’s experience.
To achieve all these goals, ICHARM will step up innovative research by taking an End-to-End approach, which covers the entire research process from data collection to analysis, assessment and prediction of natural phenomena to socio-economic impact assessment, thereby creating a scientific knowledge base, which helps increase communities’ water-related disaster resilience and sustainability. We will conduct more advanced research by collecting data on both water hazards and disaster risks, assessing and predicting risks and their changes, including those likely to affect society and the economy, and establishing methods and applications to support on-site policy implementations. We will promote interdisciplinarity by collaborating with a broad range of areas, including water utilization, public sanitation, climate science, urban planning, biology, biodiversity, agriculture, energy, and infection control, as well as by considering new lifestyles and national land development.
ICHARM will also improve its capacity building programs to help local experts further develop capacities needed, for example, to solve problems based on local needs and conditions and form a consensus among various stakeholders. We will provide graduate-level programs to foster practitioners who can understand and create scientific knowledge on water hazard and risk management. We will also offer training for local experts to become “facilitators” who can provide practical ideas on site to improve resilience and sustainability by utilizing the water disaster consilience.
Promoting information networking, ICHARM will continue updating the action plans by identifying, visualizing and mapping challenges to be addressed to achieve the resilience and sustainability goals listed in the 2030 Agenda, the Sendai Framework, the IHP-IX, and “River Basin Disaster Resilience and Sustainability by All.” We will also continue implementing projects while incorporating the outcomes of research and capacity building by utilizing the International Flood Initiative and other networks.
It is often difficult for developing countries to formulate effective disaster management plans suitable for the characteristics of water-related disasters and local-specific natural and social conditions. This can be attributed to insufficient systems to collect, store, share and statistically process data on disaster damage and hydrological and meteorological events. Recognizing these shortcomings as the most fundamental bottlenecks to promoting disaster risk reduction, ICHARM will implement research on data management technology for water-related disasters as one of its major research themes. In addition, understanding the importance of a cross-sectoral approach in the public sector and active participation of the private sector, ICHARM will integrate interdisciplinary scientific knowledge to consolidate a consilience for water disaster reduction.
In particular, ICHARM conducts research on technologies to collect and store data and information regarding hazards, exposure and vulnerability and share them among stakeholders while developing and implementing technologies to collect damage data that can be operated at national and local levels. ICHARM will also develop a method for combining local data with satellite observations and numerical model outputs to provide wide-area information in order to encourage nations and regions to store and share information and data. We will provide technical assistance for affected nations to compile highly reliable disaster statistics, to which stakeholders can have access in real time. Moreover, ICHARM will assemble intelligence infrastructure using digital twin technology to integrate and share policies and other information on areas closely related to water disasters, such as urban planning, agriculture, energy, natural environment, and infection control.
ICHARM will continue its contribution to research on data collection, storage, sharing, statistics, and visualization as the most fundamental infrastructure to enhance disaster risk reduction.
ICHARM has been developing hazard assessment methods separately, such as the Integrated Flood Analysis System (IFAS), the Water-Energy-Budget Rainfall-Runoff-Inundation model (WEB-RRI), a sediment-driftwood-inundation analysis system, and the Couple Land and Vegetation Data Assimilation System (CLVDAS), and vulnerability assessment methods, such as an economic damage analysis system. However, for all basin stakeholders to understand risks and share information, it is essential to conduct integrated assessments of hazards, exposure and vulnerability and interlink the outcomes with those of impact assessments in such areas as urban planning, agriculture, energy, and natural environment conservation.
ICHARM will develop, verify and improve methodologies to integrate the assessment of hazards, exposures and vulnerabilities. ICHARM will conduct case studies into risk assessment of water-related disasters, taking local conditions into account, and use the outputs to assist local communities in their own risk assessment and disaster risk reduction tailored to local backgrounds. Additionally, since monitoring methods for its global targets in the Sendai Framework has not been agreed, ICHARM tries to make a contribution to the development of a globally applicable method by conducting and comparing the results of such local case studies.
ICHARM will continue creating relevant information and providing support for better communication and understanding of water-related risks.
Water-related disaster risks change over time as hazards become intense due to climate change and vulnerability increases due to urbanization and infectious diseases spreading worldwide. When risks increase, prevention measures designed based on present risk information may not be effective for future disasters. Furthermore, if the effect of prevention measures to be taken for increased risks is not projected properly, the economic efficiency of disaster-related investment might be underestimated. To avoid such misperceptions, ICHARM will continue research on forecasting future risks while additionally considering their changes observed until the present.
We will develop, verify, and improve methods for monitoring and forecasting changes in hazards due to meteorologic conditions with different temporal scales ranging from season to climate change and changes in exposure and vulnerability due to social development and economic changes. Case studies will be conducted using these methods to support local communities in selecting appropriate methods according to their needs and conditions to mitigate future risks by themselves. The methods will be modified with various local adjustments and compared with each other for further improvement to eventually become globally applicable.
ICHARM will continue its contribution to effective policymaking for disaster risk reduction as water-related risks are projected to increase.
Irrationally low priority on investment in disaster risk reduction causes many disasters and disturbs sustainable economic activities in developing countries. Japan, promoting “River Basin Disaster Resilience and Sustainability by All” as its new flood control policy, is seeking a method to explain the relationship between disaster-related investment and regional management. This needs an interdisciplinary approach and collaboration between the public and private sectors, and facilitating these efforts requires illustrating the effectiveness and efficiency of disaster-related investment. To this end, ICHARM will conduct research by proposing and evaluating policies aiming to reduce water-related disaster risks while considering local needs and conditions.
The research will seek to increase stakeholders’ understanding of the significance of disaster risk reduction policies to support sustainable development under climate change. It will also analyze concrete policies in terms of suitability to the target, aiming to assist each nation in proposing new policies independently while considering local lifestyles, socio-economic activities, and future risk changes. ICHARM will also develop models to evaluate each policy’s outcomes and socio-economic assessment methods applicable to different nations, as well as provide training for strengthening human resources to lead local consensus building and political decision making.
ICHARM will continue supporting local and national governments and funding agencies in active decision making on investment in disaster risk reduction.
Although some cases have reported that disaster reduction measures were highly effective, other cases have reported unfortunate incidents in which malfunctioning crisis communication caused fatal delays in evacuation.
The need has also been pointed out for building a flood-conscious society, in which communities prepare appropriate rescue and recovery schemes even during unexpectedly large-scale disasters and a build-back-better framework based on a long-term regional management plan. This needs technical support to increase the awareness of local governments and residents about disaster prevention and mitigation and for them to create systems to take necessary actions. With a wide understanding of local conventions and human behavior in emergencies, ICHARM will develop, verify, and help local governments and residents plan and implement a wide range of disaster management measures with a good consensus among relevant stakeholders so that measures will maximize their effects during disasters.
Such measures will aim to support the effective sharing of information provided from early warning systems and other sources among administrators and residents to facilitate coordinated disaster responses among different sectors. They will also aim to help them with operation continuity planning based on local needs and conditions and interoperability improvement for better collaboration among various administrative functions.
ICHARM will support citizens and local governments in increasing disaster awareness and improving their water-related disaster management capabilities.
In order to achieve the Mission in step with the UNESCO IHP-IX and the fifth Medium to Longterm Plans of the Public Works Research Institute (PWRI), ICHARM will conduct the following activities in the next 6 years:
ICHARM will conduct research on technologies to collect and store data and information regarding hazards, exposure and vulnerability and share them among stakeholders. We will also actively support nations and communities in data collection, storage, and sharing by developing and helping them implement technologies to collect damage data that can be operated by themselves. Technical assistance will also be provided for nations to compile highly reliable statistical data.
ICHARM will develop and verify a method to combine water-related disaster assessment models with other models. We will also develop an index that can holistically indicate the basin-wide impact of water hazards. Case studies on the risk assessment of water-related disasters will be conducted at multiple locations both in and outside Japan while taking local conditions into account. Necessary assistance will be provided for local communities to perform risk assessments based on their needs and circumstances using the findings of the case studies, thereby achieving disaster risk reduction.
ICHARM will develop, verify and improve methods for monitoring and forecasting changes in hazards due to meteorological conditions with different temporal scales ranging from season to climate change and changes in exposure and vulnerability due to social development and economic changes. These methods will be applied to case studies at multiple locations both in and outside Japan, and the outcomes will be used to provide support for all stakeholders to select appropriate methods according to their needs and conditions to mitigate future risks of water-related disasters by themselves. The methods will be modified with various local adjustments and compared with each other for further improvement to eventually become globally applicable.
When developing policies that are practical under climate change, it is essential to consider stakeholders’ understanding of disaster risk reduction measures, lifestyles, socio-economic activities, and possible changes in disaster risks. To achieve these, ICHARM will develop models to evaluate each policy’s outcomes and socio-economic assessment methods applicable to different nations, as well as provide training for strengthening human resources to lead local consensus building and political decision making.
ICHARM will support local governments and citizens at several locations in Japan and overseas in the implementation of means for effectively sharing information from early warning systems and other sources among administrators and residents to facilitate coordinated disaster responses among different sectors. We will also develop, verify, and help them implement methods for preparing operation continuity plans based on local needs and conditions and improving interoperability during disaster response by liking administrative functions effectively at all levels.