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Post-doctoral researcher builds international links

05 July 2018
Sandeeka Mannakkara

Post-doctoral researcher Sandeeka Mannakkara has been accepted into the 2018 Young Scientists Programme run by the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme. The programme intends to collate information collected by young researchers from different countries. This research is used to inform the Sendai Framework, which sets global disaster risk reduction priorities and is a major area of focus for the Centre for Disaster Resilience, Recovery and Reconstruction (CDRRR) here at the faculty.

Sandeeka’s application was focused specifically on her work with Building Back Better, one of the four priorities for action listed in the Sendai Framework. She says there's a global research need to understand what Building Back Better is and how to actually put it into practice.

“At the CDRRR, we have been working on Building Back Better since 2010 and we’ve developed a framework for it. The term ‘Building Back Better’ really came up as a catchphrase, then it was kind of a concept,” she said.

“It's associated with a lot of recovery efforts, but there's still nothing practical that people can use to actually implement or plan a recovery using these principles, so we've been developing a framework, indicators and tools that people could use.”

Developing the tools is a two-way process requiring input from major stakeholders, which is why this inclusion in the Young Scientists Programme is a great opportunity to receive the expert feedback necessary to make this happen.

“When the Sendai framework came out with Build Back Better as one of its priorities we really wanted to get in there and make our research known. We're hidden away in New Zealand, and we didn't really get any opportunities for direct links with the UN, so this programme is an opportunity for us to get our research out there.”

The Build Back Better website run by the CDRRR is intended to be a “one-stop shop” for people who want to understand more about the concept and keep up to date with their ongoing research projects. Sandeeka says there have been a number of times where stakeholders have approached the CDRRR for consulting work after reading Build Back Better’s research publications. The site is currently a showcase for these, but their hope for the future is that this will also be a place where stakeholders can find more than that.

“We have been developing this research or a while, so the next big thing is to turn it into a tool, so it's like a package we can deliver to stakeholders, and that's something we want to make available on our website at a later date,” Sandeeka says.

“We're trying to package all the information we have develop an app or some kind of web or phone application that stakeholders can use themselves to plan their recovery using Build Back Better principles. That tool will also help with reporting back to Sendai.”

The focus on Build Back Better is just one element of the CDRRR’s ongoing research and project portfolio. Other current and upcoming projects include conducting a resilience assessment of Auckland using the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and research trips to Fiji that will align with elements of the Build Back Better framework.