A Japanese national of Indian origin, Rajib Shaw is a Professor in the Graduate School of Media and Governance in Keio University, Japan. He is also the Senior Fellow of Institute of Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Japan, and the Chairperson of SEEDS Asia and CWS Japan, two Japanese NGOs. Earlier, he was the Executive Director of Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), an international science programme. He has also served as a Professor in Kyoto University.
Prof Shaw’s expertise includes disaster governance, science and technology application in risk reduction, community-based disaster risk management, disaster and environmental education, climate change adaptation and urban resilience. He is the Editor of a book series on disaster risk reduction, published by Springer and Chief Editor of Progress in Disaster Science, an international journal by Elsevier. Prof. Shaw has published 57 books and over 400 academic papers and book chapters. Prof Shaw is also the recipient of the prestigious “Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA)” for the year 2021 for his contribution in the education sector. PBSA is the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians and persons of Indian origin by the President of India.
Prof Shaw has worked in ‘post disaster recovery programmes’ globally, including the 1999 Chamoli earthquake of India, 1999 Chi Chi earthquake of Taiwan, 1999 Kozaeli earthquake of Turkey, 2001 Bhuj earthquake of India, 2002 Hindu Kush earthquake of Afghanistan, 2003 Bam earthquake of Iran, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Indonesia, Maldives, India and Sri Lanka, 2004 landslides of Saijo, Japan, 2005 POK earthquake in Pakistan, 2008 Sichuan earthquake of China, 2008 Nargis cyclone of Myanmar, 2011 East Japan earthquake and tsunami, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan of Philippines, 2015 Nepal earthquake and 2018 and 2020 West Japan floods.
He believes that disasters are development opportunities, and therefore, after each disaster he works on unique recovery programmes. Through open air 1:2 scale shake table testing and formation of mason association in Gujarat earthquake, he and his team ensured the confidence in local masons and engineers on stone and mud constructions. His work in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia has led to the establishment of village-level communitybased working groups, found to be effective during several disaster events in the respective countries. During 2001-2003, he went to Afghanistan and facilitated the training of masons and engineers, developing national guidelines for the building and retrofitting of non-engineered construction. His career in the university has been marked by the unique feature of linking ‘field to lab’, where he changed the ‘last mile’ for disaster risk reduction into the ‘first mile’ and helped in co-designing innovative solutions.
During his career as a university professor over the last 18 years, he has contributed significantly not only to enhance higher education and research but also to develop a new stream of young DRR professionals. His students and collaborators, spread over different Asian countries, currently promote disaster resilience related action and policy research.
From 2015 onward, Rajib Shaw has been instrumental in sciencebased policymaking as the head of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) research programme co-sponsored by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) among others, the Chair of the United Nations Science Technology Advisory Group (STAG) for disaster risk reduction; the Co-chair of the Asia Science Technology Academic Advisory Group (ASTAAG), and facilitating the youth led S-T forum (U-Inspire). As the Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of the Asia Chapter of the IPCC 6th Assessment Report, he has shown his leadership in the science policy interface in climate change as well. In 2018, Rajib Shaw co-founded Resilience Innovation Knowledge Academy (RIKA), a Delhi based social enterprise to enhance science scholarship and interventions, and entrepreneurship in disaster risk reduction or DRR. RIKA does this by developing and implementing new frameworks of science and social innovation. RIKA works in India and different countries including the ASEAN nations. In 2022, he went on to co-found RIKA Institute as well.
As recently as on May 25 this year, Rajib Shaw received the prestigious United Nations Sasakawa Award for his contributions in the field of disaster risk reduction. The award was presented to him at a ceremony held in Bali as a part of the United Nations Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. Sasakawa Award is one of the three prestigious prizes established in 1986 by the founding Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, Mr. Ryoichi Sasakawa. It is awarded to an individual or institution in recognition of their efforts made to reduce disaster risk in the community through on-ground efforts and advocacy.