In our previous blog, we introduced the RMS clients who will be joining this year’s RMS Impact Trek, heading off to the Philippines on March 17 to help support the work of our longstanding partner, Build Change. Now it’s time to meet some of the RMS employees who they will work together with on a 10-day trek with Build Change to learn more about how to ensure communities benefit from safe housing, through the use of retrofitting and sound construction methods. For more insight, watch the video below from the 2018 Impact Trek in Nepal.
Simon Athawes: Product Manager (APAC Climate Hazards)
I work as a product manager in the Asia climate hazards team at RMS and my most recent project was the RMS Philippines Typhoon and Inland Flood Model, so I was very excited to join this year’s Impact Trek in the Philippines. I’m hoping I can apply my knowledge of the hazards and risks in the country, to help further the aims of Build Change in increasing resiliency in vulnerable communities and ensure they are better prepared for the next catastrophe.
I’m also looking forward to seeing how Build Change makes an impact at the local level and hearing the experiences of people in their local communities about living with the risk of earthquakes and typhoons, and to see how risk management and resiliency measures can be applied.
Laura Barksby: Product Manager
This year’s Impact Trek combines my academic background, as well as my role at RMS working on global earthquake models, particularly for the Asia Pacific region. I am interested to learn first-hand how Build Change raise awareness of typhoon and earthquake risk, when there are other more immediate socioeconomic challenges that affect the local community.
This was something that I witnessed during a field trip to Nepal prior to the 2015 earthquake, where the risk, particularly in rural communities was very poorly understood. I am also interested in how our expertise can help Build Change in their work, given the disparity between the risk in the Philippines, and local communities’ recognition and perceptions of the risk.
James Cosgrove: Modeler, RMS Event Response
I’ve worked in the RMS Event Response team for over two and a half years and have responded in real-time to hundreds of events, including the two super typhoons (Yutu and Mangkhut) that impacted the Philippines in 2018. Tens of thousands of homes, mostly made of light and unreinforced materials, were extensively damaged and dozens of communities were destroyed – and most of the damage was uninsured.
With this year’s Trek going to the Philippines, it offers a fantastic opportunity to assist with Build Change’s mission to improve resilience and to see first-hand the tangible improvements they are making, such as retrofitting structures and educating local stakeholders on safer construction practices.
And for the first time, the Impact Trek is in a country where RMS has two catastrophe models (Philippines Typhoon and Inland Flood, and Southeast Asia Earthquake). This provides a fantastic opportunity to use our science to help Build Change quantify the economic and social benefits of their pre-disaster retrofitting and reconstruction projects.
Kate Demchak: Associate Program Manager- Technical
The Impact Trek provides the opportunity for participants to drive meaningful, positive change – not just in the location of the travel, but also in their home community, to gain an appreciation for those organizations making a difference to vulnerable communities. And to truly make an impact in an environment different than your own, you must have an understanding of that community’s way of thinking and their values, to understand how our related field of work can contribute outside of our company. The vulnerability of this area is obviously an opportunity to drive meaningful change towards resiliency for this country of over 100 million people.
Having a passion and excitement for the change and the impact that you can have as an individual, and as a team will also motivate to pursue different angles of viewing risk and resiliency globally.
Theresa Lederer: Consultant, Capital & Resilience Solutions
For me, it’s a mix of interest in Build Change and the work they are doing, and the Philippines as a country. Working in the CRS (Capital and Resilience Solutions) team at RMS, I’ve also been involved in quite a few projects which apply risk modeling to help governments and communities better understand and manage their risk – which also ties in very well with Build Change’s mission.
One of the projects I worked on last year was focused around providing Philippine cities with access to affordable insurance against earthquakes and typhoon. I’m excited about getting an insight into the daily lives of people in the Philippines, and their biggest challenges, concerns and ambitions around disaster risk – and how the work Build Change is doing is targeting those. Our work at RMS can be very technical, so I think it’ll be interesting to get a more practical perspective on the ground, and to understand what our modeling capabilities can mean for local communities.