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OnderzoekUrban and Regional Studies InstituteResearch projectsCoastal Resilience Research GroupInternational workshop

International Resilience Workshop in Groningen: successful two days

On October 9th and 10th, the Faculty of Spatial Sciences hosted the international workshop “Resilience – Just do it?! Governing for resilience in vulnerable places” organized by Elen-Maarja Trell, Melanie Bakema, Gwenda van der Vaart and Britta Restemeyer. The workshop attracted ca. 45 researchers and practitioners from all across the globe (UK, Belgium, Italy, France, USA, Indonesia, Germany, Slovakia, Philippines, The Netherlands) and a broad range of disciplines (e.g. planning, economic and cultural geography, environmental and political sciences, sociology, arts) to discuss the ways they conceptualize and use the term ‘resilience’ in their work.

The workshop consisted of two parts: one theoretical part with keynote speeches and presentations from participants to discuss each other’s work and one more practical part comprising a field-trip to the North-East of the Province of Groningen and the design of a resilience strategy for this area. The latter was done in creative group work to explore opportunities and barriers relating to translating the resilience concept from theory to practice.

The contributions to the theoretical part provided a range of topics as well as possible perspectives on how to look at resilience. Some presentations specifically looked at governance challenges surrounding climate adaptation or post-disaster stresses (e.g. floods and earthquakes), addressing issues like risk communication, capacity-building, participation as well as public and private responsibilities. Others talked about the potential role of arts, permaculture and social capital in building community resilience. The geographical context was widespread – we heard about urban slums in India, coastal communities in the Philippines, Townships in Iran as well as urban and rural landscapes in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

In the practical session the focus turned to our workshop location: the North-East Region of the Province of Groningen. On the first workshop day, the geographical context and current dilemmas facing the region were introduced to the international participants during a field-trip. During our trip, with stops in Loppersum, Termunterzijl and Delfzijl, local officials described their perspectives on current challenges, comprising natural risks (flooding and earthquakes) as well as socio-economic issues (population decline, ageing of the population, unemployment). These insights were further elaborated on during a creative group work session on Friday afternoon. In this session, the participants developed some initial ideas for making the region more resilient by turning current challenges into opportunities. The participants also came up with a variety of new ideas, including using permaculture, creating ‘living labs’ and establishing ‘floating transition islands’. Interestingly, all groups assigned the university a big role in the process of making the region more resilient.

The ideas from the practical session will be synthesised together and further developed. A more elaborate discussion of the results will be published soon in a special issue for the regional journal ‘Noorderbreedte’. The theoretical papers from the participants will also be further developed into an edited book exploring the concept of resilience and its use in practice. All in all, we had two extremely successful days with fruitful and thought-provoking discussions and a very good spirit among the group – thanks to everyone and their great contributions!

Keynotes and organising team
Keynotes and organising team
Workshop
Workshop
Group picture
Group picture
Fieldtrip
Fieldtrip
Last modified:03 October 2017 09.30 a.m.