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The AXA Research Fund Launches its First Chair in Asia

February 28, 2012

AXA Announces €3 Million Endowment to Establish AXA-NTU Chair on Natural Hazards in Southeast Asia

28 February, 2012 Singapore - The AXA Research Fund, a global initiative of scientific philanthropy supported by the worldwide insurance group AXA, is awarding 3 million Euros (S$5M) to the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU) to create a permanent Chair in Natural Hazards held by Prof Kerry Sieh. This is the first AXA Chair in Asia.


Inspired by the need to build sustainable societies

The enormous growth of the human population in Southeast Asia over the past six decades has exposed millions of people to natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, changing sea levels, climate change and other geological hazards. To build sustainable societies, it's become crucial to have a comprehensive panorama of natural hazards in the region combining both solid geological and social sciences.

With the endowment awarded by the AXA Research Fund, Nanyang Technological University will establish the AXA-NTU Chair in Natural Hazards at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS). These funds will strengthen the Observatory's ability to become an enduring pillar in the application of earth science to create safer and more sustainable societies in the region. The Observatory will apply the support from the endowment to focus on the areas of risk assessment and management, policy and economic issues, and education. These integrations will occur largely through joint appointments and engagements with other NTU departments and institutes.

Engaging the Community

The AXA Research Fund encourages its supported researchers to have a voice in the public debate, sharing their knowledge with their peers and improving their analysis through a multidisciplinary approach. This includes working with journalists and the media to help them inform people about the risks they are exposed to; providing government agencies with the necessary information to make accurate public decisions and working with risk experts of multiple industries – including insurance. This ensures the ongoing growth of the scientific knowledge base.

Beyond the long-term financial resources the AXA Research Fund provides, the Chair is also given the opportunity to connect to the research community of more than 300 supported researchers all around the world. Tapping on this extensive worldwide network, the AXANTU Chair can also further disseminate its research and enrich the public’s scientific knowledge for a better awareness and mitigation of natural hazards in South East Asia.

A partnership built on shared ideals

On AXA’s generous support to bolster earth sciences at the university, NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said: “EOS rates as one of the best research institutes of its kind in the world. It is making great strides in the field of sustainability with its unique blend of geoscience and social science excellence blended into a single institution. We are proud to find a partner who has faith in our research capabilities. We are confident that NTU is a good match for AXA’s aspiration in this partnership and together, we can achieve great things for a sustainable earth.”

Prof Kerry Sieh, Chair holder and Director of the Earth Observatory, declared: “Creating connections with industry partners such as AXA will be critical to our success in contributing to a ‘Sustainable Earth,’ one of NTU's five strategic, inter-disciplinary Peaks of Excellence. These partnerships will help governments, communities and businesses anticipate and adapt creatively to environmental challenges, as well as develop and implement visionary policies to mitigate risks that Nature poses to human infrastructure."

Commenting on AXA’s commitment to this Chair, Denis Duverne, AXA Group Deputy CEO said: “The AXA Research Fund is committed to supporting countries that make academic research a cardinal point of their economic development, and that’s the case for Singapore. Therefore, in addition to supporting two Singaporean researchers working in Europe and one outstanding and innovative research project at the National University of Singapore, we are now funding the first Asian AXA Chair at the Nanyang Technological University. I think it acknowledges the international recognition and academic excellence of the Singaporean research institutions as well as AXA's long term commitment to the region. This new Chair is exactly the kind of excellence that the AXA Research Fund wants to support and to partner with to better understand and prevent risks for the society at large.”

Gaëlle Olivier, CEO of AXA Asia General Insurance and sponsor of the Chair, added: “As the AXA sponsor of the Chair, I look forward to a fruitful and long-term intellectual partnership between AXA and NTU. AXA will benefit from the EOS' researchers’ expertise on natural hazards in the region as the work is likely to bring new vision and analysis of mid to long term trends that will enhance awareness of emerging risks for risk management experts. AXA will contribute to Prof Sieh’s research by sharing our insurance expertise concerning such risks. Finally, AXA will help Prof. Sieh disseminate his discoveries through AXA’s world-wide network to enrich the public’s scientific knowledge for a better mitigation of natural hazards in South East Asia.”

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