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Reducing the Risks of Natural Hazards: A Program for the Future

USGS Customer Listening Session

November 3, 2004

Final Report

Executive Summary

The USGS (U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior) hosted a listening session in Washington, D.C. in November 2004 as part of its on-going dialogue with customers, partners and stakeholders. The purpose of this meeting was to invite comments on core science programs and to begin a dialogue on the unique roles and responsibilities of USGS to reduce the risks of natural hazards. Attendees included nearly 90 individuals representing various government entities, professional associations and societies, nonprofit research and academic institutions, and consulting firms, as well as the USGS Executive Leadership Team and other USGS employees. Participants expressed considerable support for a natural hazards initiative, interest in continuing to work with USGS in planning it, and appreciation for being invited to provide ideas at this early stage.

Participants proposed that risk could potentially serve as a unifying concept for the new USGS initiative -- an initiative that helps society "assess and manage" risk associated with natural hazards. A common theme was that the goal should be to facilitate better decision making, linking science and society both at the local level and at almost any level where information about hazards will allow prudent decisions to be made.

Participants felt that USGS is well-equipped to develop a hazards initiative. USGS should start by building on their existing capabilities and expertise. USGS should also establish effective partnerships with decision makers who will use the information and tools produced as well as with those who can contribute additional expertise and information to the program. Participants also recommended that USGS identify readily achievable short-term goals to demonstrate early results.

Participants also suggested a broad scope for the initiative, noting that:

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