From 15-17 June 2021, IWSN researcher Dr Thanti Octavianti participated in a virtual British Council Researcher Links workshop organised by Dr Andrew Barkwith (British Geological Society) and Dr Nguyen Thanh Long (Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources).
Attended by 21 early career researchers and 11 mentors from both the UK and Vietnam, the workshop aimed to facilitate the necessary integration of cross-disciplinary knowledge, expertise and understanding to improve the effectiveness of hydrometeorological hazard research and decision-making in Vietnam.
The workshop started with the introduction of the mentors, and a networking session in Gather Town, a web-conferencing platform with the ability to interact with other participants and move around the venue, just like real life!
This was followed by a keynote talk about the impacts of hydrometeorological hazards under a changing climate by Dr Nguyen Nghia Hung (Southern Institute of Water Resources Research, Vietnam). After, participants were divided into five groups to discuss a natural hazard and how it could impact two characters, such as a farmer and a city worker, and explore the use of an educational game to build awareness about the impacts and potential mitigation strategies of natural hazards. This research session was led by Dr Ivan Haigh (University of Southampton).
The second day began with short presentations from the participants about their research, and continued with a keynote from Prof Dan Parsons (University of Hull) about participatory approaches in hazard-focused research. This was followed by a research session with a hypothetical case of creating a new Mekong Delta Plan. Participants were asked to map the influence and interest of various stakeholders, and then formulate appropriate strategies to engage them in the process. The last session of the day was about British Council’s funding, and the opportunities for international collaboration between researchers from the UK and Vietnam.
The final day started with a research session addressing the main questions behind the workshop, such as how to co-develop research more effectively to elicit policy changes. This was followed by a panel discussion around personal experiences of barriers into research and to progression, and how these have been overcome (or not). Dr Keely Mills (British Geological Society) then gave a talk about pathways to impact, and how to get research into policy and practice. The workshop ended with the introduction of ‘Challenge Prizes’ that gave the participants the opportunity to form their own teams and develop research projects focused on designing open-access methods and tools that can improve the social effectiveness of hydrometeorological hazard research in Vietnam.
Overall, the workshop was useful and informative. By introducing current initiatives and highlighting research gaps, it addressed the increasing importance of integrating local knowledge about managing risks associated with hydrometeorological hazards. The workshop was well-organised and structured, featuring innovative ideas on how a virtual workshop may be held, such as using a user-friendly collaborative platform (Gather Town) and allocating regular breaks in-between sessions, which are very necessary in helping participants stay focused and avoid digital burnout.