Preparing for worst saves lives: flood expert

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jul 24, 2014 - 21:02
  • Updated : Jul 24, 2014 - 21:06
People working on water management issues should always assume and prepare for the worst when it comes to natural disasters and climate change, according to Philippe Gourbesville, the director of Polytech Nice Sophia in France.

“The key to understanding the importance of water management is the uncertainty of the future. In the past, it was easy to predict with statistics. The problem now is that we have just realized that the future (climate and environment) will change and we need to be prepared in many ways to adapt well to extreme situations, like the 2011 tsunami in Japan,” Gourbesville said on Tuesday at the Hydro Asia 2014 event held in Daejeon City.
Philippe Gourbesville, director of Polytech Nice Sophia in France

The French flood expert coestablished the regional meeting in 2007 to give students and experts a chance to experiment with real data and case studies on flood and water-related policies. Hydro Asia is currently known as the biggest regional gathering of its kind.

“Developing countries are much more flexible (in responding to natural hazards) and smart in their reaction. I’d say it’s because they’re well aware and prepared for any kind of situations happening in the future,” Gourbesville explained.

He added that the catastrophic results of the deadly tsunami in Japan and the 2011 flood crisis in Bangkok were partly because experts and authorities had not thought ahead to assume the worst.

“What we’re doing at Hydro Asia is planning what to do when current infrastructures are not enough to deal with natural hazards. Until now, policymakers have disliked the uncertainty and unknown future. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore that uncertainty,” Gourbesville said.

“So it’s something to be discussed and explained with decision makers, engineers and technicians, in order to finally define the common framework where we can provide the best solution for the citizens.”

Hydro Asia, for that reason, is focused on linking technology with administrative policies so that they can be combined to solve water management problems, while also offering practical solutions that can be applied to people’s daily lives.

“One of the big problems we have seen in Europe is, researchers and politicians introduce new frameworks and ideas every day, but at the end, they’re completely disconnected from the daily lives of the people and the reality. That’s why people from different countries and majors are here to have comprehensive discussions,” he said.

The six-day Hydro Asia 2014 conference will run until July 26.

By Suk Gee-hyun (