Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Chile, Santiago de Chile

Hugo I. Romero (born in Valparaiso, Chile, April 21st, 1950) is Associated Professor in the Department of Geography, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of University of Chile, institution where he has been working for 46 years. He has been Director of the Millennium Research Center on Disasters and Socionatural Vulnerabilities between 2011 and 2014.  His education includes a professional tittle of Teacher in History and Geography, obtained in University of Chile, a Master of Sciences in Land Resources Management obtained in the National College of Agricultural Engineering, University of Cranfield, U.K. , a Diploma in Geographical Information Systems Applied to the Environment, obtained in the Ecole Polithecnique Federal de Laussane in Switzerland, and a Doctorate in Geography and Land Resources Management obtained in University of Zaragoza, Spain.   He has been Visiting Professor in Universities of Poitiers (France), Extremadura (Spain), Federal Universities of Santa Maria, Santa Catarina and Parana (Brazil), and Adjoin Professor in the Washington State University (Pullman), USA. His research topics are related with Urban and Regional Sustainable Development and Socionatural Disasters.   He is teaching Environmental Geography at graduate level in Master and Doctorate Programs in several Latin American universities.  He is author or co-author of near 200 articles and book chapters published in Chile and abroad.   Founder and Past-President of the Geographical Chilean Society and the Association of Andean Mountains, he is also an active member of the Multihazard Program of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), being the Chairman of the X International Symposium organized in 2014 in Santiago de Chile. He is Member of the Core Group of the Institute for Disasters Sciences (IRIDes) of Tohoku, University, Japan, and of the Latin American Geographers Forum. In 2013 was awarded with the Chilean National Prize of Geography due to his outstanding contribution to teaching and research in this discipline. In 2014 was nominated like Distinguished Researcher in the VIII Latin American Symposium of Physical Geography. 




16:30-18:00 6 NOVEMBER

Challenges for science and technology in disaster risk reduction in Latin America and Chile

Latin America has the largest number of damages caused by natural disasters in recent decades. In Chile, the great social impact of disasters began in May 2008, when the eruption of the Chaitén volcano forced the evacuation of more than five thousand inhabitants of the city. In February 2010, an earthquake measuring 8.8, accompanied by a tsunami, affected its most populated and industrialized area, causing $ 30 billion in economic losses, destroyed nearly 300,000 homes and killed about five hundred people. In 2012 North Andean streams were destroyed by floods caused by heavy rains, which were repeated in March 2015, causing a series of 19 floods and landslides, which caused 28 deaths and 28,000 homeless. In April 2014 and September 2015 earthquakes of 8.3 and 8.4 on the Richter scale were recorded again in northern Chile, which forced the evacuation of about a million people due to the repeated tsunami threats. Clearly it has become very difficult to reconcile economic and social development in this disasters environment and scientific and technical progress are too modest, single disciplinarians and disconnected from decision making because of reduced budgets and priorities allocated by governments to their investigation and prevention. The monitoring instruments are expensive and difficult to manage when they are located in mountainous, arid, jungle, oceans or glacier landscapes. Dialogues and coordination between domestic and international natural and social scientists, improvement of technologies for monitoring, evaluation and communication, integration of scientific and local knowledge, and the relationship between scientists, policy makers and communities are greatly needed. Regulatory measures such as land use planning, risk maps and Integrated Watershed Management are as relevant as the generation of social networking and community risk management.