The multinational consortium project titled Building European Communities’ Resilience and Social Capital (BuildERS, EU Horizon 2020, 2019-2021) aims to bring local and international governance levels together for more effective resilience in the face of increasingly complex disasters.
Too often, EU and UN governance on disaster risk reduction ignores the realities of local communities, including the key factors that boost – or detract from – community resilience when disaster strikes.
Prior research on vulnerability and the degree of harm to local populations during disasters (natural or human-made) show disproportionate effects within populations. The economically disadvantaged and elderly, for instance, are particularly harshly affected.
Three main elements
BuildERS will improve our knowledge of these risk reduction dynamics by focusing on three research elements:
- risk perceptions, risk awareness and social trust;
- institutional settings including organisational architectures, capacities and cultures of collaboration and shared values;
- tools, processes and methods to enhance resilience-building, social capital and coping skills.
The project brings together top university scholars, civil society organizations, NGOs, first responders, policymakers, and technology developers around BuildERS’ set of core research questions:
- How do pre-existing conditions related to varying socio-economic conditions, differing levels of social capital, and unequal access to societal services affect risk awareness? What are the gaps between the truly most vulnerable and the mainstream segments of population?
- How do those perceptions affect people’s behaviour in ways that may be conducive or impairing to risk awareness? Are there perceptions and patterns of behaviour that are below the radar (current knowledge)?
- What are the spatial/regional differences in risk awareness, ‘trust radius’, and risk perceptions? What institutional or cultural factors seem to be associated with differences?
- What impact does social media have on rescue personnel’s and citizens’ risk perceptions before, during and after disasters with special emphasis on vulnerable populations? What is the role of other media (radio, television, newspapers) compared to social media? What is the role of other information sources e.g. social networks and ways of coping with disinformation compared to social media?
- Which strategies, processes, tools and methods enable all concerned parties (security practitioners, civil society organisations and people) improve their risk preparedness and facilitate effective responses in different disaster scenarios? How will the concerned parties enlarge the radius of trust and engage increasingly the most vulnerable groups?
BuildERS is lead by VTT Finland. The consortium comprises 10 countries (Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Hungary, USA) and 17 partners. The project will last from 2019 to 2021.
Claudia Morsut from UiS leads the work package Comparative assessment of human vulnerabilities and risk awareness.