Interview with Pavlos Tyrologou
Coordinator of the EFG Panel of Experts on Natural Hazards and Climate Change
EFG’s Panels of Experts (PE) have been set up to provide high quality advice and information to the European institutions, to international NGO’s and to other global professional associations. EFG has currently 10 Panels of Experts active in the fields of CCS, Education, Geological Heritage, Geotechnics, Geothermal Energy, Hydrogeology, Natural Hazards, Minerals, Oil & Gas and Soil Protection. The Panels involve more than 200 voluntary experts from over 20 different countries and all aim at emphasising the importance of geology to society, the benefits of incorporating geological advice and to promote the importance of the geoscientific profession.
To raise awareness about the existence of these Panels of Experts, EFG is presenting its coordinators in a new interview series. In May 2018, we have talked to Pavlos Tyrologou, the coordinator of the Panel on Natural Hazards and Climate Change.
Coordinator of the EFG Panel of Experts on Soil Protection since 2015
Pavlos Tyrologou is a consultant in Engineering and Environmental Geology with experience in public infrastructure works, contaminated land and due diligence while he also offers his services as an expert witness in the Public Prosecutor’s Office whenever these are requested. He holds a PhD in Environmental Geotechnics (2005) from Imperial College, an MSc in Applied Environmental Geology from Cardiff University and a BSc (Hons) in Applied Geology from Glasgow University. He is both accredited Chartered Geologist (CGeol) from the Geological Society of London and Eurogeologist (EurGeol) from the European Federation of Geologists. He currently coordinates the EFG’s Panel of Experts in Natural Hazards and Climate Change while he is also a member of the Panel of Experts on Soil Protection. Due to his coordinatorship, Pavlos was positioned, by the EFG, into the Working Floods Group established by the European Commission. Furthermore, he is a member of the Technical Committee in Engineering Practice of Risk Assessment and Management of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. In the past he has also served on the professional committee of the Geological Society of London.
About your field of expertise:
Past years have seen an increase in natural hazards like floods or landslides. Is the current EU legislation prepared for this?
From a general risk assessment point of view, there is certainly a substantial amount of work that has already been done. My understanding is that on the current “risk assessment” the role of geology has not been properly factored into the equation amongst other disciplines. The good news is, that this in a way it has been recognised as it is indirectly reflected in the current Horizon 2020 calls from the European Commission and on the reports presented by the European Environment Agency. I think the field is ready for more geologists to step in and further advance that front. Currently there is much work conducted on research level across Europe. I am expecting that if, we, geologists from across Europe, insist on communicate our thesis; the results of our scientific research, professional experience and debate will be fed to future European Legislation. Of course, what consequently begs the question is that of implementation. Again, I think communication will be of paramount significance.
Which role can geoscientists play to prevent natural hazards?
Geologists are educated and trained on lateral thinking and on synthesising data in 4 dimensions; time being the fourth dimension coupled with space. We are also very good at using limited information and still being able to draw simple logical valid conclusions. Learning from the past and apply knowledge to present and future, it is what distinguishes us from other disciplines. I see geology not as a passive platform of information, or a database if you like, but as an active tool; a tool that if deployed properly can act as a defence mechanism to dramatically reduce the risk of natural hazards. Seismic micro-zonation, aquifer recharge, CO2 sequestration just to name a few are some interesting ideas where geology can be applied to reduce risk from natural hazards and climate change.
Which role does education play?
Unequivocally, the most important role of education is that of communication and awareness. Natural disasters will inevitably happen. This is a way for our globe to demonstrate how much alive is. Educating our society on how earth behaves, and in what fashion, it will enable us to actively engage the public on risk reduction and prevention of natural hazards. The financial implication of this are vast. The otherwise billion euros spent annually for natural hazards remediation will be released and allocated for other societal needs and progress. This presents a win-win case scenario as it will make the public an advocate for further scientific research on the geological front. I think the clear message here is that educating on geology and natural hazards saves money and lives.
How do you see the future role of geoscientists in your field of expertise, for example 20 years ahead from now?
The scientific frontiers are advancing as our society evolves and becomes more complex. For instance, urban development will further increase the pressure on land utilisation, either for housing or for food production. Taking into account natural disasters, climate change and sustainability, the solution of these problems demands a holistic approach that requires further geoscientific engagement. Therefore, I see great involvement potential for geoscientists at all levels, from strategic design, to financial markets down to the field practising. To achieve this, I must stress the importance of communication of the benefits of our profession into the society.
About your Panel of Experts:
Which role can the EFG Panel of Experts on Natural Hazards play in the current EU policy context?
We aim to make the policy makers aware of the importance of geology in both understanding the mechanisms causing Natural Hazards and how to alleviate the risk associated with them. Our central objective is to make geoscience even more prominent in the EU policy. We try to achieve this by participating in as much initiatives as possible, set by the European Commission and Parliament, and we offer our consultation.
How would you define the added value of collaborating with experts from different European countries?
Collaborating with fellow colleagues is a celebration of scientific reasoning and investigation. You can not solve the problem without defining it multidimensionally. And this is what this panel is established to do. Geoscientists from various parts of Europe face different problems derived from common causes. Bringing all these together and collaborating with people which see the problem from different perspectives it allows to perform simultaneous multi-parametric analysis and actually find solutions close to the real optima rather than the local maxima. I think that is great!
What is your Panel of Experts currently working on? What are your further plans for 2018?
We are actually involved in preparing proposals for two Horizon 2020 projects and we contribute on the draft document on floods and nature related Directives to be produced by The European Commission/Directorate-General for the Environment. Moreover, we want to become more involved with Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre of the European Commission and also try to establish communication contacts with the Disaster Risk Management of the World Bank.
Is there anything EFG could do to support your Panel of Experts?
EFG council and its executive board have provided great support into the Panel activities, especially on the Horizon2020. I feel obliged to stress the point that the Panel does not distinguish itself from E.F.G. After all, the Panel is one of its communicative arms, hence I would like to see the question really how our Panel can support EFG towards its aims and objectives. I believe that the Panel can further increase the impact and exposure of the EFG by fostering further our ties with sister committees and organisations. This can be achieved by participating in the activities organised by these organisations. These can be various meetings and conferences.
Your Panel involves less women than men and in general women are underrepresented in the STEM sector. What needs to be done to improve the gender balance in earth sciences?
Positive discrimination should come to aid and used for a positive effect. But more importantly, women should be strongly encouraged to apply in the STEM sector. On the social front more than anything else we need an attitude change. We need to remove labels from people’s mind on jobs that traditionally were men dominated; this includes men and women.
Since when do you lead your Panel of Experts?
Beginning of 2015
What inspired you to become a geologist? Why did you choose the field of natural hazards?
Volcanoes and dinosaurs as a kid, what else! But as a teenager “The Mysterious Island by Julius Verne” offered the continuous motivation. In the version that I read (Kingston’s translated version) the main character was a natural scientist (when in fact, in the original Julius Verne he is a railroad engineer). The fact that the character portrayed as a geologist and being so much resourceful based on his natural science knowledge, it really fascinated me and provided the passion to become a geologist which I still have. Not to mention that the whole book is brimful with natural science observations.
What do you currently do in your job?
I am actively engaged in the consultancy sector with infrastructure works. Recently, I was involved in a large project in Africa. The largest part of that was how to secure infrastructure works from natural hazards.
More information about the EFG Panels of Experts