Belgian researcher wins Blue Planet Prize 2023


Debarati Guha-Sapir, a researcher at UCLouvain, has received this prestigious international prize, which recognises individuals or organisations that have helped to solve global environmental problems.

The Japanese Asahi Glass Foundation has awarded the Blue Planet Prize, an international environmental award, since 1992, the year of the Kyoto Protocol. The selection committee received 182 nominations this year, and Debarati Guha-Sapir, Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Public Health at UCLouvain, was the winner. She has been rewarded for her decades-long research into climate change-related natural disasters and their impact on vulnerable populations.

Climate disasters, such as floods, heat waves and cyclones, have been on the rise worldwide, with devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable communities. The Belgian researcher's research aims to find practical, data-driven solutions to protect high-risk communities from the effects of these events.

In 1988, Debarati Guha-Sapir founded and participated in the development of the first database to record natural disasters (EM-DAT), which was created within the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) at UCLouvain with the support of the WHO and the Belgian government. This database fills a gap in the collection and compilation of natural disaster-related data and helps to objectify the increase and amplification of natural disasters due to climate change.

Numerous organisations such as the UN, WHO, IPCC, World Meteorological Organization, and various governments and research institutes around the world now use the database created by the Belgian researcher.