The fifth annual Canadian Risks and Hazards Network Symposium will be held Nov. 5 to 9 in St. John’s and will be hosted by the Memorial University’s Department of Geography, and will include a lecture by noted political commentator Gwynne Dyer.
The Canadian Risks and Hazards Network was established in 2003 in response to a growing demand to promote and strengthen disaster risk reduction and emergency management in Canada.
The symposium will address issues arising for all types of hazards, including natural hazards, human-created accidental problems (such as oil spills) and topics ranging from campus security to hazards in the offshore environment.
Dr. Norm Catto of the Geography department has been instrumental in bringing the meeting to Newfoundland for the first time.
“Residents of Newfounldand and Labrador are well acquainted with natural hazards, both weather- and climate-related, and geological. We have coped with blizzards, storms, flooding, coastal erosion, slope failures and a tsunami and so we not only have experience with hazards, but also in how to manage effective community response,” said Dr. Catto. “There are no hazards without people, but people can reduce their vulnerability by understanding the risks and hazards and developing strategies to adapt to them.”
Dr. Catto is expecting upwards of 100 delegates to the conference. Symposium attendees will be coming from across Canada and overseas and will include from academics, writers, first responders, representatives from all levels of government and military officers. Among special events are a workshop for municipalities sponsored by the Newfoundland and Labrador Fire and Emergency Services and a workshop for teachers given under the auspices of the Newfoundland and Labrador Eastern School District. Events open to the general public include a workshop on emergency preparedness for persons with disabilities and St. John’s first café scientifique on the theme of Food (in) Security.
The big draw for the public will no doubt be the keynote address by journalist Gwynne Dyer who will speak on a topic inspired by his new book Climate Wars (published by Random House of Canada), which is based on his forthcoming CBC Ideas program of the same name and deals with the frightening geopolitical implications of large-scale climate change. Mr. Dyer will be speaking at the Inco Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5.