TOR & CONCEPT NOTE (Last updated on August 22, 2016); PDF



TC21: Transdisciplinary Approach (TDA) for Building Societal Resilience to Disasters


Terms of Reference


1.    Background

Disaster is a main constraint to sustainable development. Disasters cause not only the loss of lives and assets but also heavy damage to the bases of economic growth. In particular, disaster hampers poverty eradication, since poor people tend to live in disaster-prone areas and once severe disasters strike, it is much harder for them to recover from the damage and loss caused by disasters.

The international community has taken great efforts to reduce disaster risks for a long time. One big achievement is to adopt the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework) at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in March 2015 in Sendai, Japan. It was agreed that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risks but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and others1. The Sendai Framework also emphasizes the importance of establishing and strengthening government coordination forums composed of relevant stakeholders at the national and local levels, such as national and local platforms for disaster risk reduction (DRR)2.

During the cumulative discussions in international society on DRR, the roles of science and technology were also identified. It is especially critical to facilitate a science-policy interface for effective decision-making in disaster risk management3. It was also confirmed during the Tokyo Conference on International Study for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience held in January 2015 in Tokyo, Japan that national platforms should be empowered as focal fora to incorporate science and technology into real practice; and that science should play an important role in DRR by promoting inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches for human well-being4.

To enhance scientific knowledge-based decision-making on DRR, science and technology community in each state should thus have sufficient capacity to provide relevant scientific and technological information and knowledge to national platforms in a timely and effective manner through a transdisciplinary approach (TDA) where scientists of all disciplines and stakeholders of all sectors work together for a common objective.

In this context, the Asian Civil Engineering Coordinating Council (ACECC)5 decided to establish the 21st Technical Committee (TC21) to support states to further develop their capacity to enhance scientific knowledge-based decision-making on DRR through TDA.



1 para.19 (a) and (b), Sendai Framework.

2 para.27 (g), Sendai Framework.

3 para.24 (h), Sendai Framework.

4 2nd and 3rd paras. of Section 2, Tokyo Statement adopted during the Conference were posted.

5 The Asian Civil Engineering Coordinating Council (ACECC) consists of the Society/Institution/Association of Civil Engineering in Asian Countries, and aims at promoting the acquisition and transfer of civil engineering knowledge for advancing the design and construction practices that ultimately improve the quality of life of all citizens from ACECC member countries.



2.    Objectives

TC21 aims to promote the trans-disciplinary approach for scientific knowledge-based decision-making for building societal resilience to disasters at national and local levels. In order to achieve this aim, TC21 will

(i)            form National Teams in all member states

and together with them,

(ii)          contribute to development of national capacity to realize TDA for scientific knowledge-based decision-making through case studies, comparative analyses, methodological developments, guidelines, workshops, training courses, etc.,

(iii)         contribute to establishment of a network of effective knowledge flow from where it is available to where needed and add new knowledge to it,

and through such activities,

(iv)         support member states to form and implement a national platform and/or local platforms with the function of transdisciplinary approach for scientific knowledge-based decision-making. 


3.    Membership

Membership of TC21 is open to those who are eager to contribute to achieving the objectives of TC21, and to form the National Team in their ACECC member organizations.

Among them, anyone who belongs to an ACECC member organization or nominated by a TC21 member can become a TC21 member upon acceptance of the ACECC member organization.


4.    Organization and Responsibilities

4.1 Secretariat

(1)   The Secretariat of TC21 is the administration body of TC21.

(2)   The Secretariat is established by one of the ACECC member organizations. The founding Secretariat was established by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers until the CECAR8 meeting after the establishment of TC21. Any ACECC member organizations can take over the role of the Secretariat after the CECAR8 meeting.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

(3)   The head of the Secretariat and the vice-head of the Secretariat are appointed by the ACECC member organization establishing the Secretariat, who are called as the Secretary and the Vice-Secretary.

(4)   The responsibilities of the Secretariat are to support the activities being undertaken by TC21, including but not limited to, acting as a point of enquiries and information regarding activities being undertaken by TC21, preparing summary reports of the meetings of TC21 and publishing these on the website.


4.2 National Team (NT)

(1)   The National Team is the implementation body to promote the objectives (i) through (iv) within its state.

(2)   The National Team consists of all of the members of TC21 in each state.

(3)   The National Team Leader is elected from among the members of the National Team, who represents and leads the National Team. The National Team Leader may appoint an alternate.

(4)   The responsibilities of the National Team are to make a National Action Plan to undertake the DRR activities in its state through TDA, and to cooperate with TC21 Steering Group and the National Teams in other states.


4.3 Steering Group (SG)

(1)   The Steering Group is the management body of TC21.

(2)   The Steering Group consists of all of the National Team Leaders and the alternates, the Secretary and the Vice-Secretary.

(3)   Co-Chairs of TC21 are elected from among all of the National Team Leaders. Co-Chairs act as co-chairs of the Steering Group as well as co-chairs of TC21. The founding Co-Chairs were appointed by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers until the CECAR8 meeting.

(4)   The responsibilities of the Steering Group are to manage all of activities conducted by TC21, including but not limited to, appointing the Co-Chairs of TC21, formulating the TC21 Action Plan, coordinating, leading and supporting the implementation of the TC21 Action Plan, convening meetings of TC21, coordinating activities undertaken by the members of TC21 and the National Teams, examining the eligibility of membership when necessary, and determining and amending this Terms of Reference.

The regular face-to-face meeting of the Steering Group is held every year to review the activities conducted by TC21 and the activities undertaken by the respective National Teams, revise the TC21 Action Plan when necessary, and make any other operational decisions.







TC21: Transdisciplinary Approach (TDA) for Building Societal Resilience to Disasters


Concept Note


Resilience building against damaging effects of natural hazards is the indispensable step towards sustainable development in any nation. It is obvious that in contemporary society resilience building needs the best available scientific knowledge as the basis of decision-making. Yet regardless of continuous accumulation of scientific knowledge on hazards and vulnerability, it has not been well put to practice in real societal decision-making in disaster management.

While we note that important causative factors to disasters are related to the population growth with urbanization and economic development, we believe that the societal policy and decision-making process in disaster management is the decisive factor to be improved to solve the increasingly serious disaster issues. Society should take a new approach that makes a holistic and transformative approach possible. That is a transdisciplinary approach (TDA) where scientists of all disciplines and stakeholders of all sectors work together for a common objective.

Therefore, the 21st Technical Committee (TC21) of ACECC was established to encourage the ACECC members to further develop its capacity to enhance scientific knowledge-based decision-making through TDA.

     Co-Design, Co-Produce, Co-Deliver, Co-Implement

Fig.1. Transdiciplinary Approach (TDA) to Aid in Active Use of Scientific Knowledge
for Decision-Making