University of Twente professor Tatiana Filatova has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant worth one and a half million euros. She will use this grant, awarded on an individual basis, to carry out research into the damage caused by climate change and the ways societies adapt to it. Her work focuses on a new way to combine knowledge of flood protection actions taken at a personal level with knowledge used at the level of policy models: a bridge between the micro world and the macro world.
Damage caused by climate change tends to be expressed in monetary terms. This is a convenient and clear approach which can serve as a basis for government policy and which enables us to compare the havoc wreaked by various natural disasters. However, this approach does have its drawbacks, as Tatiana Filatova, Professor of Economic Modelling for Resilient Societies at the University of Twente, is keen to point out. “One million euros’ worth of flood damage has a completely different impact in a rich country than it does in a poorer country. Not only that, but damage expressed in euros or dollars says nothing about the socio-economic resilience, how a society adapts in the wake of a disaster or which social groups are exposed to the greatest risks.” More alarmingly, these damage estimates can involve a margin of uncertainty of up to two thousand percent. “Many important policy decisions on climate and development are currently being made on very limited grounds,” Professor Filatova observes.
Meanwhile, a great deal of research has been done at an individual level and much is known about people’s personal resilience and how they adapt to changing circumstances. The drawback here is that data of this kind is far too detailed to be turned into policy. This is the challenge Professor Filatova has taken on: to span the gap between knowledge about individual action and the knowledge contained in policy models: to build a bridge between the separate traditions of micro and macro research. In the context of the SCALAR project, she will harness new approaches to data collection via mobile devices, the latest simulation techniques and innovative methods to integrate micro-simulation into macro models.
In this fundamental research project, Professor Filatova’s focus will be on adaptation to climate change, but the methodological innovations the project aims to deliver will be an asset to a wide range of research areas including economic policy, land use, energy transitions, transport or studying regime shifts in coupled social-ecological systems.
The personal grant of one and a half million euros that Tatiana Filatova receives will be channelled into the SCALAR project, which has a duration of five years. This sum enables her to take on two PhD students, a postdoctoral researcher and a programmer. On this project, her team is collaborating with the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the University of Oxford (UK), Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei FEEM (Italy), the BC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change (Spain), Stevens Institute of Technology (USA) and Shanghai Normal University (China).