Professor Gavin Shatkin hosted a workshop on “Cross Disciplinary Approaches to Flood Research in Jakarta” in collaboration with Tarumanagara University on May 22 and 23, 2017, which marked the end of the first phase of a project that examines projections of flood risk in rapidly growing coastal megacities. The multidisciplinary initiative involves Northeastern University faculty from the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, the College of Arts, Media and Design, and the College of Engineering.
“The workshop brought together Jakarta-based researchers and stakeholders to discuss what research needs to be done to tackle the complex and interrelated issues of governance and politics, engineering and infrastructure, and architecture and urban design that all need to play a role in efforts to mitigate flood risk,” said Shatkin, director of the Asian Studies Program and the MS in Urban and Regional Policy.
A massive mega-urban region, Jakarta is home to almost 30 million people and, like many other coastal megacities in Asia, Africa and Latin America, faces dramatic flood risks in the coming decades. These threats, Shatkin said, are caused by both climate change-induced sea level rise and intensified storms, and local problems of urbanization of watershed areas, the constriction of rivers and canals because of urban development and clogging with waste, and land subsidence, or the sinking of land caused by groundwater use.
The goal of the workshop was to develop new agendas of research to grasp flood risk. Participants included academics and representatives of non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and community organizations. Panel presentations addressed community participation in flood research and mitigation, the state of the art of hydrological modelling on floods, legal and governance aspects of flood management, and architecture and urban design.
“The discussions among participants focused on various themes centered on the question of how to ensure the equitable and just distribution of the costs and benefits of the disruptive and expensive infrastructure investments that have become the focus of government flood mitigation efforts,” Shatkin said. “Participants also discussed the need for future research and policy formulation to include substantial involvement of communities who are important stakeholders in solving flood problem.”
According to Shatkin, participants identified a key role for academic institutions in providing a neutral platform for research and policy formulation. The networks developed during this workshop will form the basis for ongoing research collaborations involving interdisciplinary groups of faculty and students from Northeastern and Jakarta-based institutions to develop a larger Practice-Action-Research project about land development and infrastructure failure.
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