The HuT project, an opportunity to highlight the value of disaster risk reduction solutions

Disaster risk reduction solutions, also known as DRR solutions, are gaining in popularity. After all, climate change is showing its consequences more and more clearly. And given the impossibility of stopping it, one of the main options open to us is to adapt to it.

And these measures are key. They have the capacity to prevent or at least minimise losses caused by, for example, extreme weather events.

This was one of the messages delivered during the International Day forDisasterRisk Reduction 2022 on 13 October.

And that day, as chance would have it, Arantec found itself in Sorrento (Italy) participating in the kick-off meeting of The HuT, an ambitious European project that aims to select best practices for disaster risk mitigation…

The HuT, showing the way to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation

The HuT: The Human-Tech Nexus is an initiative with funding from the Horizon Europe programme. This programme aims primarily to tackle climate change and help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But it also seeks to boost EU competitiveness and growth through research and innovation.

The objective of The HuT, as mentioned above, is to select the best solutions forclimate change-induced disaster risk reduction. The reason, to be able to implement them in as many European countries as possible. However, the aim is not to achieve a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Rather, it is to obtain a catalogue of tools that can be applied as a whole or that can improve existing processes.

In order to facilitate the identification of different tools and approaches for disaster risk management, the project has chosen to differentiate between several events:

  • forest fires, including wildland urban interface fires;
  • meteorological, hydrological and agricultural droughts, including associated water scarcity;
  • heatwaves;
  • climate-induced landslides, including debris flows;
  • fluvial and pluvial flooding, and
  • storms, including heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms and storm surges.

Additionally, DRR solutions must also respond to one or more of the following areas of expertise:

  • human-centred remedies;
  • governance and policy, or
  • science and technology.

This last aspect suggests that developments such as those represented by IoT monitoring, one of Arantec’s fields of activity, will have a special presence.

Demonstrators, the core of the project

The core of the project are, basically, the “demonstrators” (DEM). These exhibitors correspond to 10 geographic areas that combine different geomorphological and socio-economic characteristics. And these territorial particularities make them more prone to suffer, for example, one or more of the above-mentioned events.

IDSiteCountryArea (km2)Territorial featuresEvents
DEM1Valencia city and
2 river basins
Spain29.635– Urban areas
– Densely populated
– Natural and heritage features
D, H
DEM2Val d’Aran regionSpain650– Orographically complex areas
– Sparsely populated
F, L, S
DEM3Lattari mountainsItaly300– Orographically complex areas
– Natural and heritage features
F, FF, L, S
DEM4Vilnius cityLithuania401– Urban areas
– Densely populated
– Natural and heritage features
DEM5Schleswig-Holstein state and
harbor cities
Germany466 km of
H, S, F
DEM6East fjordsIceland3500– Sparsely populatedL, S
DEM7Tisza river basinHungary7180F
DEM8Ogliastra provinceItaly1855D, FF, H
DEM9Dorset countyUK2653– Natural and heritage featuresF, L, S
DEM10Bern cantonSwitzerland5960– Densely populated
– Natural and heritage features
F, L, S
FF=Forest Fires, D=Droughts, H=Heatwaves, L=Landslides, F=Floods, S=Storms
Location of the demonstrators that will serve as the scenarios for showcasing disaster risk reduction solutions.

Thus, areas with more developed disaster risk reduction solutions will be able to export their experience to less developed areas.

The role of Arantec in The HuT project

What functions will Arantec carry out in this initiative? Firstly, we are going to leave our stamp on the exhibition area corresponding to the Val d’Aran region. However, we have also been assigned other specific tasks:

Marcel Hurlimann, from the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya and responsible for the DEM2 demonstrator, shows the solutions implemented in Val d’Aran
  • Collaborate together with the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI). The objective, to create a cloud platform to enable the 10 demonstrators to share and manage information.
  • Develop approaches that value the use of IoT for monitoring extreme weather events. Additionally, the task also seeks to involve people in at-risk areas to act as ‘sentinels’.
  • Collaborate together with the Universita degli Studi di Salerno (UNISA) in improving and adapting different modelling approaches to characterise risk.
Eisharc Jaquet, CEO of Arantec, introducing the company

Why disaster risk reduction is important?

First of all, to clarify that the term “natural disasters” is wrong.

There are only natural hazards. But these can turn into disasters depending on the decisions taken or the degree of preparedness shown.

With this in mind, disaster risk reduction strategies provide the tools necessary to minimize these catastrophes. In short, they prevent new fatalities, reduce existing risks and increase climate resilience.

“The world has been stuck in a vicious cycle of disaster → response → dependency → repeat”

Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR @HeadUNDRR

But… how is it possible to reduce the level of vulnerability and exposure? By implementing measures such as early warning systems. Our Smartyriver is, for example, one of these solutions because it monitors the status of watercourses in real time.

In fact and according to UN estimates,

  • for every $1 invested in risk reduction and prevention, post-disaster recovery saves $15, and
  • for every $1 invested in building resilient infrastructure, subsequent reconstruction saves $4.

And these investments also have an effect on the Sustainable Development Goals, benefiting the reduction of poverty and unemployment or ensuring access to sufficient food.

We can’t predict the unpredictable… but we can prepare for it

Natural hazards are inevitable. But the impact they have on society is not.

A clear example is, for instance, the two earthquakes in Haiti and Chile in 2010. The Chilean earthquake was 500 times more powerful than the one that shook Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. But it caused far fewer victims and less damage. The reason, a better disaster preparation in the Andean country, which has, for example, strict building codes.

In short, as Benjamin Franklin said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. But The HuT project is a key to avoid that failure. And Arantec is going to become one of its cogs to make it a success and enable it to fulfil its mission: to save lives.

Sources used

Introductory image : Matt Palmer : Foto Campo de hierba marrón y verde cerca del cuerpo de agua bajo el cielo nublado durante el día – Imagen Australia gratis en Unsplash

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