On 15-16 July, academics from Kent Business School, Southampton, Lancaster and from universities and government institutions across Southeast Asia met in a virtual workshop to plan how some of the most persistent challenges among the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals could be addressed by applying Operational Research.
Operational Research is a scientific approach to the solution of problems in the management of complex systems that enables decision makers to make better decisions. It is also nicknamed ‘the Science of Better’.
The project is supported financially by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and is led by Principal Investigator, Professor Maria Paola Scaparra, from Kent Business School. Professor of Environmental Systems Management at KBS, Jesse O’ Hanley and Reader of Operational Research, Dr Kathy Kotiadis were also involved.
More than 100 stakeholders attended the workshop, which identified ‘disaster in the city’ and digital governance in Indonesia, forestry planning in Vietnam, urban flooding and drainage in Laos, and food supply security in Cambodia, as key areas where OR could be applied.
Later this year, the project will work with early-career researchers from Southeast Asia to design specific OR initiatives which could meet these challenges.
Professor Paola Scaparra’s research focuses on the development of analytics tools and optimisation models for disaster management, humanitarian logistics, healthcare service planning, transportation planning and sustainable development. Paola’s recent main line of inquiry involves exploring how Operational Research (OR) can contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.