Conference news

Published on July 12th, 2013 | by Simi



Today marked the final day of the Maths of Planet Earth Conference, drawing to a close what has been an exciting and inspirational week. ​Delegates have heard from 20 plenary speakers, 80 contributed talks, dinner speaker Alex Zelinsky, DSTO, and of course an opening from Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb.

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Today, ‘risk’ was introduced to MPE with a passionate presentation on financial risk management from Dr Mark Lawrence, Mark Lawrence Group (and AMSI Board Member). Speaking on the new post-crisis paradigm for financial risk management, we heard how risk management is fundamentally changing in the largest banks, reflecting crucial lessons from risk management failures in the Global Financial Crisis. Key changes include the requirement to carefully define the total amount of aggregate risk that the organisation is able and willing to accept in persuit of its business objectives (its “risk appetite”) and link this to the strategy and detailed business plans for growth; and an explicit focus on ensuring a strong institutional “risk culture”.

Prof. Mark Burgman, Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis, entertained us, speaking on the role that expert judgement plays in science, examining whether experience and qualifications are linked to with accurate well thought out judgement – the importance is in understanding the question!

MPE’s final speaker Johann van der Merwe, Chevron Australia, delivered some eye-opening figures on the loss of biodiversity within Australia. His inspiring talk covered a journey into unchartered territory, protecting the conservation values of a ‘sensitive area – Barrow Island.



The panel discussed different approaches to risk management and mitigation in Australia, they agreed that the requirement to achieve “zero risk” is not realistic and results in sub-optimal solutions which are excessively costly.

Alan Dormer , CSIRO, commented, “A zero risk mentality results in infinite costs.”

Panellists and audience members agreed that there is a need to better communicate risk concepts to the community and that an increased understanding of these concepts is necessary if we are to achieve more cost effective risk mitigation and better public policy outcomes.

There was strong support for AMSI to organise a multi-day conference dedicated to ‘risk’ issues, which would enable a deeper exploration of these issues.

Panellists: Mark Lawrence (Mark Lawrence Group), Alan Dormer (CSIRO), Mark Burgman (ACERA), Clinton Foster (Geoscience Australia) and Geoff Prince (AMSI).

twitter  TOP TWEETS # MPEAU @DiscoverAMSI

@DiscoverAMSI – Mathematics is a natural home for education in risk #MPEAU @CSIROnews @Chevron @OakRidgeNews
@penguian – Cognitive bias affects our ability to make decisions under uncertainty – #mpeau
@mariposajanine – Environmental responsibility. Gorgon project will tap vast amounts of gas in the next few years. Johann van de Merwe #mpeau
@DiscoverAMSI – “Understanding business models” and their risks at MPE Conference Melbourne #MPEAU @FinancialReview

Conference wrap up and photos here


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