November 2021: The Crisis Response Journal is organising a webinar on behalf of the Erasmus+ BUiLD Project – Building Universities in Leading Disaster Resilience – to help strengthen the disaster resilience links between all sectors and stakeholders.
Disaster mitigation and response initiatives used to be seen largely as the responsibility of a defined group of agencies such as governments, emergency services, disaster aid organisations and specialist organisations. However, responding to the current pandemic has demonstrated that the responsibility for crisis response and resilience falls on us all.
Individuals, families, businesses and communities around the world have had to adjust their daily lives in a joint effort to combat the virus. For many, the implications are existential and may range from redundancy, bankruptcy, physical and psychological illness, to unsafe domestic situations. Assisting those who are affected now, and in the future, is an astronomical challenge for policymakers, the public and private sectors, charitable organisations, law makers and law enforcement.
The challenges in keeping society resilient do not stop with the pandemic. The impacts of climate change have shown that without much advance warning, communities may need to respond to a local disaster in an ongoing health crisis. During the past 18 months, we have seen unprecedented extreme heat and flooding, as well as ongoing seismic and volcanic activity. This calls for innovation and multi-stakeholder collaboration in developing advanced frameworks and solutions for disaster preparedness and management.
Universities have strong networks within the public and private sector and with local, regional and international communities. This places them into a unique position not only to act as catalysts for research and educational initiatives, but also to mobilise networks, resources and specialist expertise during emergencies and recovery. This position is strengthened through their capacity to contribute to knowledge transfer, scenario planning, post-assessments and impact studies, curriculum development and innovative research initiatives to improve the diverse aspects of disaster resilience as prioritised in local, regional and national disaster management plans.
The webinar, Innovation in disaster management – bridging the gap between academia and practice, brings together leading international experts who will share insights into how universities can act as key agents in driving innovation in disaster preparedness and management.
The event will be chaired by David Rubens, Executive Director of the Institute of Strategic Risk Management (ISRM) and Member of CRJ’s Advisory Panel, and will feature speakers from across Europe with a wide range of expertise and experience:
- Louise Davidson, a PhD student at the University of Sussex and Public Health England whose research examines the ways that people work together both within and between different organisations, and how this understanding can be applied to better understand the way in which emergency responders come together in a major incident to work towards a collective goal;
- Joerg Szarzynski, Academic Officer at United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Head of the Global Mountain Safeguard Research (GLOMOS) Bonn office, active UNDAC member, and Member of CRJ’s Advisory Panel. His previous experience includes working on Disaster management and Humanitarian Relief, Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R), Earth Observation applications for DRM and Climate Change Adaptation, Multi-hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS), Risk Assessment and Analysis and Simulation Exercises (physical/virtual);
- Rut Erdelyi worked for the Slovakian Ministry of Interior on implementing rescue systems, capacity building in risk prevention and management, DRR systems and social inclusion. She now works with the Resilience Advisors Network in the EU and manages several EU H2020 programmes; and
- Christian Resch, the CEO of the Disaster Competence Network Austria, with established links between universities and organisations such as civil protection and fire services.
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