prof.dr. C.J. van Westen (Cees)

Full Professor

About Me

Cees van Westen is  a Full professor Multi-Hazard Risk Dynamics at the Earth System Analysis Department of  the faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), Twente University, the Netherlands.  After obtaining his MSc in Physical Geography from the University of Amsterdam in 1988 , he joined the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) as a Ph.D. researcher and specialized in the use of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems for natural hazard and risk assessment. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Delft in 1993. He was involved in projects related to the development of open source GIS software and developed many training materials on the use of GIS for hazard and risk assessment. From 2005- 2015 he was Director of the United Nations University - ITC Centre on Geoinformation for Disaster Risk Management. He has carried out research on different hazard and risk related aspects: landslide hazard and risk (e.g. Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Romania, India, China, Vietnam, Colombia, Central America, Caribbean), volcanic hazard and risk assessment (Colombia, Philippines, Central America, South America) and technological risk assessment (India). He worked on national scale risk assessment projects in Central America, the Caribbean, Caucasus, and Central Asia. His current research interest is to develop methods for the analysis of changing multi-hazard risk. These changes can be abrupt, e.g. after major disasters (e.g. earthquakes, tropical storms, volcanic eruptions), or gradual (e.g. analyzing how future scenarios of climate change, land-use change, and population change have an impact on risk) or as a decision support tool for the planning of risk reduction measures.


Earth & Environmental Sciences
Debris Flow
Risk Assessment
Sichuan Earthquake 2008
Engineering & Materials Science


He is currently contributing to the research theme on Disaster Risk Management in ITC.  He has carried out research on different hazard and risk related aspects: landslide hazard and risk (e.g. Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Romania, India, China, Vietnam, Colombia, Central America, Caribbean), volcanic hazard and risk assessment (Colombia, Philippines, Central America, South America) and  technological risk assessment (India). He worked on national scale risk assessment projects in Central America, Caribbean, and the Caucasus. His current research interest is to develop methods for the analysis of changing multi-hazard risk. These changes can be abrupt, e.g. after major disasters (e.g. earthquakes, tropical storms, volcanic eruptions), or gradual (e.g. analyzing how future scenarios of climate change, land use change and population change have an impact on risk) or as decision support tool for the planning of risk reduction measures. 


Externally funded research projects:

  • RUNOUT project. Major risk from rapid, large-volume landslides in Europe: The design and testing of new techniques for hazard assessment and mitigation. EU FP5, Programme Environment and Climate 1994-1998. The primary goals for Project RUNOUT were to develop and test physical models for the catastrophic collapse and runout of giant landslides, and to use these to improve strategies for mitigating the hazard from such mass movements. Test sites in Gran Canaria, Liechtenstein and Italy. 
  • ESA-DUP SLAM Project: the development of an ESA EO Service to support the legal obligations of Swiss and Italian Geological Risk Services in landslide risk forecasting and prevention. Several projects funded by the European Space Agency within the framework of its Data User Program (DUP), have investigated the feasibility and the operational applicability of spaceborne imagery to respond to the needs of governmental institutions that have a mandate in landslide analysis and prevention. 
  • SLARIM project: Strengthening Local Authorities in Risk Management. This was an internally funded ITC project running from 2002 to 2005. The main objective was to develop a methodology for the use of spatial information systems for municipalities, which will allow local authorities to evaluate the risk of natural disasters in their municipality, in order to implement strategies for vulnerability reduction. It concentrated on medium-sized cities in developing countries, which do not yet utilize GIS in their urban planning (Naga in the Philippines for flood risk management, Lalitpur in Nepal and Dehradun in India for seismic risk management). This resulted in the Ph.D. of Veronica Botero and Graciela Peters. 
  • Mountain Risk Project. The Mountain Risk Project was an EU FP6 Marie Curie Initial Training Network running from 2007-2010. It focused on research and training in aspects of mountains hazards and risks assessment and management. It intended to develop an advanced understanding of how mountain hydro-geomorphological processes behave and to apply this understanding to living with the hazards in the long-term. This resulted in the Ph.D. thesis of Byron Quan Luna on the use of runout modeling for landslide hazard and risk assessment. 
  • SafeLand Project. SafeLand was a Large-scale integrating Collaborative research project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7) of the European Commission. It developed generic quantitative risk assessment and management tools and strategies for landslides at local, regional, European and societal scales and establish the baseline for the risk associated with landslides in Europe, to improve our ability to forecast landslide hazard and detect hazard and risk zones. 
  • INCREO project. The INCREO project was an EU FP7 Copernicus project, running from 2013-2014. The objective of IncREO is to provide actors responsible for civil protection and disaster management with EO-based solutions contributing to an improved preparedness and mitigation planning for areas highly vulnerable to natural disasters and already noticeable climate change trends. 
  • CHANGES project. The CHANGES project was an EU FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network. The CHANGES network (Changing Hydro-meteorological Risks – as Analyzed by a New Generation of European Scientists) aimed to develop an advanced understanding of how global changes (related to environmental and climate change as well as socio-economical change) will affect the temporal and spatial patterns of hydro-meteorological hazards and associated risks in Europe; how these changes can be assessed, modelled, and incorporated in sustainable risk management strategies, focusing on spatial planning, emergency preparedness and risk communication. This resulted in the Ph.D. of Thea Turkington on the analysis of climate change for hydro-meteorological hazards in mountainous areas in the Alps.

Bilaterial research projects:

  • Austria: Applied Geomorphological Mapping Hintere Bregenzerwald. As part of the MSc a mapping project of 12 geomorphological map sheets was carried out together with A.C. Seijmonsbergen. Each map at 1:10,000 scale had two overlay maps: geotechnical and natural hazards. 
  • Austria: Geotopen Inventar Vorarlberg. A collaboration of the University of Amsterdam with the Vorarlberger Naturschau (Inatura, Dornbirn) resulted in one of the first inventories of geomorphologically important geotopes in Austria. 
  • Switzerland: Landslide hazard assessment in Sant-Gallen. Collaboration between the University of Amsterdam and the Wildbachverbauung in Sankt Gallen: several projects were carried out on detailed applied geomorphological mapping in 1986-1988. 
  • Colombia: Landslide susceptibility and hazard assessment in Manizales. Collaboration between ITC and the Instituto Geografica Agustin Codazzi (IGAC) in Bogota, Colombia. Linked to Ph.D. of Cees van Westen and Mark Terlien, and to capacity building in IGAC.  
  • China: Coalfire impact on landslides and subsidence. Research project funded by Netherlands Government and EU on mitigating the impact of spontaneous coal fire combustion in Ninxia province.
  • Philippines: Volcanic hazard assessment in Pinatubo and Mayon. Collaboration with PHIVOLCS on post-volcanic debris flows modeling at Mount Pinatubo, resulting in the Ph.D. of Arturo Daag. Volcanic hazard assessment of Mayon volcano with Arlene Dayao of DMG. 
  • Cuba: National-scale landslide risk assessment. This work was centered around the PhD research of Enrique Castellanos (now director IGP in Cuba). Methods were developed for landslide hazard and risk assessment at national, provincial, municipal and local scale. 
  • Nepal: Seismic hazard and risk assessment in Kathmandu valley. Collaboration with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the Nepalese Society on Earthquake Technology (NSET), the Department of Mines and Geology, and Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan Office. Modeling of soft sediments in Kathmandu valley, liquefaction hazard assessment, building characterization, seismic risk assessment, improvement of building permit system. 
  • Peru: Volcanic hazard assessment in Arequipa. Collaboration with Prof. Thouret (University of Clermont Ferrand), Mike Sheridan, and Ruben Vargas Franco. 
  • India: Landslide hazard and risk assessment. Four-year collaboration project with the Geological Survey of India (GSI), the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA, DoS)  and the Italian CNR-IRPI on the development of landslide inventory, susceptibility, hazard and risk assessment methods appropriate for India. Resulting in four PhD theses of Sekhar Lujose Kuriase, Tapas Ranjan Martha, Saibal Ghosh and Pankaj Jaiswal. 
  • China: Earthquake-induced landslide hazard assessment in Sichuan province. Close collaboration with the State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention (SKLGP), of the Chengdu Technical University (CDUT), resulting in PhD thesis of Tolga Gorum and Xuanmei Fan, and ongoing work by Chengxiao Tang. Also resulting in the Wenchuan-Earthquake Geohazards Atlas and numerous publications.  
  • Malaysia: Use of LiDAR for landslide hazard and risk assessment. Collaboration with the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, and JMG on the application of LiDAR data to landslide inventory mapping, hazard and risk assessment. This resulted in the Ph.D. of Khammarul Razak. 
  • India: Technological hazard and risk assessment in Haldia. This research resulted from an EU project with the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata and the EU Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy. Two Ph.D. researchers: Anandita Sengupta and Debanjan Bandyopadhyay (December 2016)
  • China, 2015-2018. Development of an Atlas of Wenchuan Earthquake Geohazards, together with the State Key Laboratory on Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironmental Protection (SKLGP), Chengdu University of Technology.
  • Nepal (2015-2019). Analyzing the co-seismic and post-seismic landslide activity in Rasuwa, with Thribuvan University
  • Dominica (2016-2020). Analyzing the multi-hazard impact of tropical storms and hurricanes in a small island developing state. With University of Leeds and Portsmouth
  • Kerala, India (2019-2020): Analyzing the relation between land-use changes and landslides triggered by the 2018 and 2019 monsoon events. With UNEP, University of Kerala, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority.


Dahal, A. , van den Bout, B. , van Westen, C. J., & Nolde, M. (2022). Spatial Loss Function for Super-Resolution of Geoscientific Data. Paper presented at Living Planet Symposium, LPS 2022, Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
Yuniawan, R. A., Rifa’i, A., Faris, F. , Subiyantoro, A. , Satyaningsih, R., Hidayah, A. N., Hidayat, R., Mushthofa, A., Ridwan, B. W., Priangga, E., Muntohar, A. S. , Jetten, V. G. , van Westen, C. J. , van den Bout, B., & Sutanto, S. J. (2022). Revised rainfall threshold in the Indonesian landslide early warning system. Geosciences (Switzerland), 12(3), 1-17. [129]. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences12030129
Meena, S. R., Soares, L. P., Grohmann, C. H. , van Westen, C. , Bhuyan, K., Singh, R. P., Floris, M., & Catani, F. (2022). Landslide detection in the Himalayas using machine learning algorithms and U-Net. Landslides, 19, 1209-1229. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-022-01861-3
Meena, S. R., Ghorbanzadeh, O. , van Westen, C. J., Nachappa, T. G., Blaschke, T., Singh, R. P., & Sarkar, R. (2021). Rapid mapping of landslides in the Western Ghats (India) triggered by 2018 extreme monsoon rainfall using a deep learning approach. Landslides, 18(5), 1937-1950. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-020-01602-4
Muntohar, A. , Mavrouli, O. C. , van Westen, C. J. , Jetten, V. G., & Hidayat, R. (2021). Development of landslide early warning system based on the satellite-derived rainfall threshold in Indonesia. In N. Casagle, V. Tofani, K. Sassa, P. T. Bobrowsky, & K. Takara (Eds.), Understanding and Reducing Landslide Disaster Risk. WLF 2020. ICL Contribution to Landslide Disaster Risk Reduction (pp. 227). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60311-3_26
Chikalamo, E. E. , Mavrouli, O. C. , Ettema, J. , van Westen, C. J., Muntohar, A. S., & Mustofa, A. (2020). Satellite-derived rainfall thresholds for landslide early warning in Bogowonto Catchment, Central Java, Indonesia. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 89, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jag.2020.102093
van Westen, C. J. , Meena, S. R. , & Zhang, J. (2020). Comparing earthquake and rainfall-induced landslide inventories in the Himalayan region. 41-42. Abstract from International Workshop (Webinar) On “Assessment and Mitigation of Landslides in the Himalaya, Dehradun, India.
van Westen, C. J., Hazarika, M., & Nashrrullah, S. (2020). ICT for Disaster Risk Management: The Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders. Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT/ESCAP).
van den Bout, B. (2020). Integrated physically-based multi-hazard modelling. University of Twente, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC). https://doi.org/10.3990/1.9789036550482
van Westen, C. J. (Developer), Hazarika, M. (Developer), Gunasekara, K. (Developer), Nashrullah, S. (Developer), Ischuk, A. (Developer), Ischuk, N. (Developer), Saidov, M. (Developer) , van den Bout, B. (Developer) , Kokorev, V. (Developer), Athukorala, R. (Developer), Deshapriya, N. L. (Developer), Tsamalashvili, T. (Developer) , Ettema, J. (Developer), Ksehtri, T. (Developer), Sharma, P. (Developer), Huseinov, E. (Developer), & Shobek, S. (Developer). (2020). Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment in Tajikistan: web-based platform. Web publication/site http://tajirisk.ait.ac.th/index.php?page=default
Other Contributions
  • UNESCAP/ APCICT 2020. Development of the APCICT Academy module on “ICT for Disaster Risk Management” by Dr. Cees Van Westen and Dr. Manzul Kumar Hazarika. It provides an overview of how ICTs can be used for disaster risk management. Link
  • Tajikistan, 2019-2020. Multi-hazard Risk Assessment at District Level in Tajikistan. UNDP funded project. http://tajirisk.ait.ac.th/

UT Research Information System

Google Scholar Link


He has been teaching courses since 1994 on topics such as Introduction to GIS, Spatial Information for Disaster Risk Management, Natural Hazard Assessment, Empirical Modelling, Landslide susceptibility Assessment, Multi-Hazard risk Assessment, Disaster Risk Reduction.

From 1998 to 2000 he was Programme Director of the Earth Resources and Environmental Geosciences" educational programme, and he has been coordinating the specialization on Natural hazards for a number of years.  He has been active in the development of joint educational programmes with IIRS (India), UGM (Indonesia), ICIMOD (Nepal), ADPC (Thailand), CLAS-UMSS (Bolivia) and UNAM-CIGA (Mexico), and CDUT (China). He has given short courses in many different countries. 

Training packages, that deal with the application of GIS and Remote Sensing for natural hazards and risk assessment:

Affiliated Study Programmes


Courses Academic Year  2021/2022

Courses in the current academic year are added at the moment they are finalised in the Osiris system. Therefore it is possible that the list is not yet complete for the whole academic year.

Courses Academic Year  2020/2021


  • Pakistan, 2020-2021. SUPARCO. Advice on the methodology for national-scale multi-hazard risk assessment for Pakistan. SUPARCO.
  • Colombia, SGC, 2020. Review of Guidelines for debris hazard and risk assessment for planning (Lineamientos Metodológicos Para La Incorporación De Las Geoamenazas En Macroproyectos De Infraestructura). Servicio Geologico Colombiano.
  • Colombia, SGC, 2020. Review of Guidelines for Geohazard assessment in macroprojects of infrastructure (
  • UNESCAP/ APCICT 2020. Development of the APCICT Academy module on “ICT for Disaster Risk Management” by Dr. Cees Van Westen and Dr. Manzul Kumar Hazarika. It provides an overview of how ICTs can be used for disaster risk management. Link.
  • Dominica, World Bank , 2020. Reducing Debris and Water Flow Risks from landslides for Infrastructure Resilience of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
  • Tajikistan, 2019-2020. Multi-hazard Risk Assessment at District Level in Tajikistan. UNDP funded project. http://tajirisk.ait.ac.th/
  • Dominica, 2019. Evaluation of landslide susceptibility for geothermal project area. Dominica Geothermal Development Company.
  • Ecuador, ESPE, 2019. Maestría de Ciencias de la Tierra de la ESPE.  Temática enfocada a “Disaster Risk Management”. Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas.
  • Colombia, SGC, 2019. Review of Guidelines for landslide risk assessment along roads (Lineamientos Metodológicos Para La Incorporación De Las Geoamenazas En Macroproyectos De Infraestructura). Servicio Geologico Colombiano
  • Abkhazia, 2018. COBERM programme funded by the European Union and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that supports initiatives of people and local communities affected by conflict.
  • Colombia. 2017. Advise on the development of a methodology for landslide hazard zonation at 1:25.000 scale as a basis for territorial planning.
  • China, 2017. Atlas of Wenchuan-Earthquake Geohazards: Analysis of co-seismic and post-seismic Geohazards in the area affected by the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake
  •  2016-2017. Capacity building project funded by UNEP to apply Geo-Information for Multi-Hazard risk assessment. 
  • Caribbean: CHARIM project. Caribbean Handbook on Disaster Information Management (World Bank project) National scale datasets were organized and stored in the CHARIM GEoNode platform. National scale landslide and flood hazard maps were made for Belize, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenadahttp://www.charim.net/  and http://charim-geonode.net/
  • Nepal, 2015: Post-earthquake landslide hazards.
  • Vietnam: Landslide hazard assessment method. 2013-2014. Consulting project for the Vietnamese Institute of Geology and Mining (VIGMR)
  • Pakistan: IST, 2013. Training Course on Advanced Geo-Spatial Disaster Management Techniques, at the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Eastern Europe, EU PPRD EAST project.  EU-funded Programme for the Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Man-made and Natural Disasters in the ENPI East Region (PPRD East).
  • Vietnam:  GHITRA project. 2010-2011. ITC was lead partner in the Geo-information Technology for Hazard Risk Assessment (GITHRA) project in Vietnam, funded by the Asian Development Bank.
  • Georgia, MATRA project. 2009-2012. Institutional Building for Natural Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Georgia, funded by NL Government. Development of a Digital Atlas of Natural Hazards in Georgia and a Web-GIShttp://drm.cenn.org
  • Central America: CAPRA evaluation, 2009-2010 (World Bank). Review of CARPA methodology and software.
  • SE Asia, CASITA University Network project. 2002-2004. Capacity Building in Asia using Information Technology Application (CASITA). EU EuropAid ASIA IT&T Project.
  • Central America, UNSECO-RAPCA project. 1998-2003. UNESCO project on Capacity Building for Natural disaster Reduction, regional Action Programme Central America (RAPCA) with participants from the following countries: Guatemala, Honduras, Nicarague, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and Belize;
  • Colombia: Rapid Inventory of Earthquake Damage, 1999-2000. Rapid assessment of the damage inflicted by the 1999 Armenia earthquake.
  • Peru, 1999. Curriculum development. GEneration of the "Atlas Ambiental de Trujillo", and the "Atlas Ambiental de Lima".
  • Argentina, 1996. Course "Curso de Actualizacion: Nuevas tecnologias en el analisis y mitigacion de riesgos naturales en Sudamerica Neotropical" in S.M. de Tucuman
  • Nepal: GLOF hazard, 1996. Expedition in the Tamba Koshi and Rolwaling valleys, together with 6 Nepalse students, to map the possible effect of a glacial lake outburst (GLOF) of the Tsho Rolpa glacier lake.
  • India, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing GEONEDIS. 1996-2006. Curriculum development and frequent training courses at the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS, Department of Space). Project coordinator for a number of years and coordinator of a Joint Master Course on Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Management. 
  • Bolivia, UMSS, 1995-2012. Joint courses on "Evaluación de amenazas y riesgos para desastres naturales" , for the CLAS project in Cochabamba. 
  • China: ESCAP, 1995. Training Course on Environmental and Urban Geology of Fast-growing Cities”, organised by ESCAP and the Chinese Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources (MGMR), held in Shanghai
  • Malaysia: MACRES, 1999: Course on Remote Sensing and GIS for Landslide Hazard Assessment in MACRES, Malaysia
  • Costa Rica: ICE, 1994. Course "Introduccion a los sistemas de informacion geografica. Aplicaciones en las ciencias de la tierra", Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, San Jose
  • Colombia: support of IGAC, 1988 - 1993. Support of curriculum development and organization of training courses on natural hazards at the Instituto Geografico Agustin Codazzi (IGAC), collaboration with INGEOMINAS, Universidad de Caldas and Universidad Nacional.

Contact Details

Visiting Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
ITC (building no. 75), room 5-043
Hengelosestraat 99
7514AE  Enschede
The Netherlands

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Mailing Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
ITC  5-043
P.O. Box 217
7500 AE Enschede
The Netherlands

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