York U organizes storm simulation event to explore youth roles in disaster risk management

When the town of “Resilientville” floods on Wednesday afternoon, young people from across Toronto will be on hand to help.

By role playing in simulations of severe flooding events, they will explore how Canadians can better prepare for major storms as Canada’s climate warms. They will also demonstrate how young people could be employed in the emerging climate adaptation sector to minimize the risk of damage from these storms.

The Youth Economic Opportunities in Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Adaptation event, organized by York University’s Disaster & Emergency Management programs and CLARION and sponsored by RSA Canada, is a side event to the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, being held in Montreal this week by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Government of Canada.

The interactive flood scenarios at the Toronto event will be played by small groups of people who will be challenged to locate the services and supplies necessary to support residents who have fled their flooded homes. Following the simulation exercises, which are led by “civic leaders” such as the mayor of Resilientville, the town librarian, police captain and chaplain, they will discuss how emergency preparedness, response and recovery at the community level can create green employment opportunities in disaster risk reduction and the climate adaptation economy.

John Godfrey, the Government of Ontario’s special advisor on climate change, will help participants in the simulation exercise develop recommendations to send to the Montreal platform, suggesting how investment in business development and job training could contribute to disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation. The type of employment opportunities created might, for example, range from retrofitting homes to prevent damage, to creating green space to reduce the risk of flash floods, or creating an app for disaster risk management.

Speakers will include:
• Marjorie Brans, managing director, School for Social Entrepreneurs Ontario – CLARION’s involvement in community-based preparedness;
• Ali Asgary, associate professor, Disaster & Emergency Management program, York University – opportunities for youths in disaster risk management; and
• Helen Williams, Business Continuity manager, and Anthony Black, National Catastrophe manager, RSA Canada − an insurance company perspective on what disasters are doing to Canada and what is at stake if we are not prepared.

The event runs from 1 to 6:30pm at CSI Annex, 720 Bathurst St., Toronto with introductory remarks at 1pm, scenario role playing from 1:30 to 3pm, recommendations from 3 to 4pm and a panel discussion at 4:30pm.

For more on the program, visit adersim.info.yorku.ca/publicforum.