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Scientific programme

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Update: Wednesday, 11 December 2019

We received nearly 70 high-quality abstracts for presentation across our eight initial topic streams. We could have easily filled three days of interesting talks and discussions. It was a fine-balancing act to select presentations for two days, decide the lengths of talks, what topic streams to run in parallel, and how long to make the days. In some cases, we  modified topic streams and reassigned abstracts to reflect synergies between submissions and better balance numbers across the different sessions. The programme booklet with abstracts is available here. 

The online conference programme is available here.

We invited submissions for talks and posters in all areas related to risk and decision-making with the option of submitting to a number of topic streams. After reviewing the abstracts and in planning the conference programme we now have the following sessions planned (in alphabetical order):

  • Bayesian Network Applications
  • Bayesian Network Specifics
  • Biosecurity
  • Climate Change
  • Environment and Human well-being
  • Methods in Risk Analysis
  • Natural Hazards
  • Organisations and Governance
  • Structured Expert Judgement
  • Weaving Mātauranga Māori and Cultural Assessments.

Please find below further details on the original topic streams we had in mind when we invited abstracts for the conference.

Publication opportunities

We are exploring publishing selected papers from the conference as a special issue of a peer reviewed scientific journal.  We anticipate the following process: 

  • Seeking expressions of interest from presenters 
  • Submitting a proposal to a journal, provided that a critical number of authors have expressed an interest 
  • Discussing with the editors of the journal 
  • Selection of a final set of potential papers 

More details will be communicated as soon as available.  

If we are successful in securing a special issue, individual invitations for submitting a full paper will be sent out. These invitations will indicate an anticipated deadline for submissions and outline the publication process.  

In addition, we will be publishing a programme booklet that will contain the abstracts for our oral and poster presentations.  

Original topic streams

The conference theme of Risk and Decision-making is relevant to many topics that both societies have covered in past annual meetings and has the potential to attract a wide range of contributors. To streamline submissions, we have defined some broad topic sessions, which we describe in more detail below. Each topic has its own panel of experts. Not all named experts will necessarily attend the conference; however, they provide an international perspective and help making the sessions relevant for the current state of the field. The panel members will advertise the session and encourage abstract submission within their own networks, assist with the review of the submissions and the development of the conference programme.

We invited submissions for talks and posters in all areas related to risk and decision-making with the option of submitting to the following topic streams:

Advances in Bayesian Network modelling

In the areas of risk analysis and risk management, Bayesian networks (BNs) provide a mechanism for representing and quantifying uncertainty, for explaining the interactions between different sources of uncertainty, and for calculating conditional and posterior probabilities given observed evidence. They can be key aids to decision-making by modelling temporal changes in uncertainty in decision sequences, and by combining information from empirical studies and expert knowledge.

This stream will explore the use of BN modelling in a wide array of conceptual, theoretical, and practical contexts. We invite presentations that extend the boundaries of BN structures, including their mathematical and statistical foundations, multifaceted applications in prediction, forecasting, projection, scenario planning, knowledge representation, uncertainty analysis, diagnosis, mitigation, and decision-making.

Panel members

  • Dr David Albrecht, Monash University, Australia
  • Dr Annemarie Christophersen (chair), GNS Science, New Zealand
  • Dr Bruce Marcot, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, United States


Effective biosecurity is grounded in risk management. As the volume of trade and travel between nations increases globally, the complexity and diversity of pest, disease and weed risks faced by biosecurity agencies, industry and the community is also increasing – but at an even faster rate. If we are to have any chance of remaining ‘biosecure’, it is critical that these risks are both accurately analysed and that the risk management measures put in place to manage them are cost-effective.

We invite you to submit proposals for talks, poster presentations and panel discussions on any aspect of biosecurity risk management. In particular, we encourage proposals that explore the practice of risk analysis and management in the context of ‘shared responsibility’ and a ‘biosecurity team of 4M’. Presentations from biosecurity practitioners, be they government, industry or community are also strongly encouraged.

Panel members

  • Dr Aaron Dodd (Chair), CEBRA, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Dr Jaimie Hunnam, Agriculture Victoria, Australia
  • Dr John Kean, AgResearch, New Zealand

Chemical Management

How chemicals are managed and used can have a huge impact on how they affect the health and lives of people, and the quality of the environment. Ensuring safe usage by appropriate chemicals can also provide benefits to the health and wellbeing of humans, and for the economy. Making sure they are stored correctly and that historical uses and spills are cleaned up helps maintain a sustainable environment, as does understanding the distribution of chemicals in our environment. This stream hopes to bring together researchers and practitioners who deal with chemicals, their approval and use, and their clean-up, with a focus on how the many necessary decisions are made.

Panel members

  • Lee Bailey (chair), Environmental Protection Authority, New Zealand
  • Dr James Deyo, Environmental Protection Authority, New Zealand
  • Dr Andrew Harford, Department of the Environment and Energy, Australia
  • David Jackson, GHD, New Zealand

Environment and Human well-being

It is becoming increasingly necessary to tackle public health problems using a One Health approach, which incorporates examining not just the person, but the environment and animals they interact with. Closely linked with this is the concept of eco-system services, and the health benefits provided by a healthy, well-functioning environment. Conversely, we also need to explore the risks we take by failing to protect these basic services. This stream invites work looking at the importance of environmental variables or environmental quality to human health and well-being. We encourage both qualitative and quantitative studies.

Panel members

  • Chris Peace, Victoria University of Wellington and Risk Management Ltd, New Zealand 
  • Helen Mayfield, The University of Queensland, Australia
  • A/Prof Bob Cavana, Victoria Business School, VUW, New Zealand.

Natural Hazard under a changing climate

Natural hazards modelling and decision making to mitigate the effects of natural hazards are areas fraught with uncertainty. Forecasting the occurrence and consequences of extreme events and understanding their driving factors are challenging because of the intrinsic variability of natural processes, epistemic uncertainties, and missing or incomplete data. Climate change can impact the severity of some natural hazards such as wildfires, landslides and sea level change.

In this session we welcome presentations on robust and reliable methods to characterize and communicate natural hazards and risks that can feed into short-term and long-term decision making.

Panel members

  • Dr Annemarie Christophersen (Chair), GNS Science, New Zealand
  • Steve Corin, New Zealand
  • Dr Richard Levy, GNS Science, New Zealand
  • Prof Trent Penman, University of Melbourne, Australia

Organisations and governance

Managers of businesses must continually make decisions in the face of uncertainty. Uncertainty invokes risk – “the effect of uncertainty on objectives”. In managerial decision-making, uncertainty (and thence risk) arises from (amongst other factors): information limits; information asymmetries; and bounded rationality.

The role of risk in financial decision-making is well-documented in the Corporate Finance literature. The same factors also influence decisions made in regard to the deployment of non-financial resources – for example, in relation to the physical safety of employees in the workplace and users of public infrastructures such as roads; the physical and mental wellbeing of students in higher education systems; managing competitive operations and supply chains; marketing risks associated with supplying products and services into new domestic and international markets; entrepreneurial risks of launching new products and processes; and the reputations of decision-makers in both commercial and political contexts. They also concern the ways in which responsibility for managing these risks can be shared (or shifted) from the original decision-maker to other stakeholders in either the firm or ecosystem in which the relevant activities take place. In this stream, we welcome papers addressing the identification and management of these so-called Enterprise Risks. We also welcome papers addressing organisational risk analysis using different qualitative approaches (eg systems thinking, conceptual modelling) or quantitative approaches (eg systems modelling, operational research or mathematical and statistical methods).

Panel members

  • A/Prof Bob Cavana, Victoria Business School, VUW, New Zealand
  • Dr Bronwyn Howell, Victoria Business School, VUW, New Zealand (Chair)
  • Prof Vicky Mabin, Victoria Business School, VUW, New Zealand
  • Prof Ilan Noy, Chair in the Economics of Disasters, VUW, New Zealand
  • Dr Carl Smith, University of Queensland Business School, Australia

Structured Expert Judgement

Most governments decision and policy makers support the concept of evidence-based decision-making. However, there is a substantial gap between scientific models relevant for cutting-edge research and those required for policy analysis. Science-based models often involve substantial uncertainty which requires defensible and timely characterisation. The shortage and cost of timely empirical data inevitably requires scientific expert judgment. Expert judgement may be also be required to inform a model development and prioritisation tasks.

We invite you to submit proposals for talks, poster presentations, and panel discussions on any of the above expert judgement (EJ) aspects, concerning either the use of EJ in your specific area of expertise, or the methodological aspects of EJ. We encourage reporting on structured expert judgement (SEJ) elicitations. These are broadly defined as formal elicitation which allow for external validation of expert' assessments.

Panel members

  • Dr Anca Hanea, CEBRA, University of Melbourne, Australia (Chair)
  • Prof Rens van de Schoot, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Prof Simon French, University of Warwick, U.K.
  • A/Prof Tina Nane, Technical University of Delft, The Netherlands,
  • Dr Annemarie Christophersen, GNS Science, New Zealand

Weaving Mātauranga Māori and cultural assessments

New Zealand is unique across the world amongst national-level environmental regulators in having an obligation to take into consideration effects on Māori interests. Mātauranga Māori is a Māori system of knowledge, and can be described as “the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of Te Taiao, following a systematic methodology based on evidence, incorporating culture, values and world view” (Hikuroa, 2017). Mātauranga Māori incorporates Māori philosophy and knowledge, including both tangible and intangible, material and abstract matters. This session hopes to bring together those researching Māori, First Nation and indigenous views and practices, with those incorporating these in to cultural assessments, and how this information is used to help decision-makers.

Panel members

  • Dr Dan Hikuroa, University of Auckland, New Zealand (Chair)
  • Dr Wendy Saunders, GNS Science
  • Erica Gregory, Principal Advisor, Kaupapa Kura Taiao, te Mana Rauhī Taiao/Environmental Protection Authority