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Masterton backs call to prepare for disasters

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Symposium: ICE past President Gordon Masterton and the ICE’s John Parry spoke at the event in Tokyo

Sharing knowledge and ideas with engineers across the world will give a greater understanding of the UK’s vulnerability and help us mitigate the impacts of national disasters, according to ICE past President Gordon Masterton.

Speaking at an international symposium in Tokyo, which focused on building resilient and adaptable infrastructure, Masterton stressed that “disaster preparedness” was key and applauded the enthusiasm across the international community to share knowledge with other countries and learn lessons.

At the time of the event New York was suffering the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst storms to ever hit the city. Representatives from over 20 nations attended the symposium, which was organised by ICE and the Japanese Society of Civil Engineers. Drawing on experiences of the 2011 Japan earthquake, attendees heard lectures and presentations and took part in panel discussions to investigate how resilience and adaptability of national infrastructure can be secured, with the aim of sharing the knowledge internationally.

Masterton, who represented ICE along with ICE sustainability panel member John Parry, described some of his direct experiences in investigating the damage caused by the tsunami in Sri Lanka in December 2004 and more recent disasters.

“It is important that we invest in some preparedness to recognise the probability of a disaster occurring - thinking the unthinkable, and having systems and processes in place that make the country or region better equipped to deal with the event when it occurs. This message is all the more pertinent given the events unfolding in New York,” said Masterton.

He also spoke about mitigating the impact on critical infrastructure networks, taking into consideration the proportionality of risk and cost.

Parry also reminded delegates that climate change had become one of the greatest challenges the world faces and talked about the challenge this presents for engineers.

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