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OnderzoekUrban and Regional Studies InstituteResearch projectsCoastal Resilience Research GroupInternational workshop


Track 1 . How to govern for resilience?

Given the gap that exists between the abundance of discussions about resilience in theory and the lack of empirical evidence how to govern for resilience in practice, this track specifically aims at exploring resilience strategies from a policy and decision-making perspective. The concept of resilience calls for actively incorporating risk and uncertainty into decision-making, which leads to a need for more open, dynamic and adaptable forms of governance. Acknowledging the complexity of current societal problems – such as climate change, urban growth and population decline – and the inherent uncertainty of predictions about climate change and future socio-economic developments, policy makers are increasingly facing the challenge to prepare and make decisions on a short-term basis, that nevertheless, still ensure the ability to adjust to changing and unforeseen circumstances in the long run. One particular question in this context is: “How to enable decision-making based on imperfect knowledge and an uncertain future?”

Connected to the above, this track particularly welcomes contributions that a) offer insights for the operationalization of resilience in policy-making and b) examine the implementation of resilience strategies in practice and use empirical findings to develop practical guidelines and policy recommendations. While the three following tracks in this international workshop focus on more specific aspects of resilience, each of them will provide valuable insights on how to make decision-making more resilient. Therefore, the track can be seen as an umbrella that connects the different tracks of this master-class.

Track 2. The social side of resilience

With regard to disaster resilience, policies are often focusing on rebuilding the economic and physical infrastructure of a community. However, resilience is a community-wide and holistic characteristic, which demands a broad conceptual underpinning if it is to be translated effectively into policy initiatives. As a result, planners and policymakers are increasingly asked to include the social side when planning for resilience. Concepts such as community identity, social capital, place attachment, community cohesion, sense of place and community participation are relevant in this context. Recent research indicates that having strong personal networks, high levels of participation in community activities and a sense of belonging in a community can contribute to residents’ resilience. Moreover, a ‘sense of place’ and community identity can enhance community resilience as they, for instance, exert substantial power to mobilize people into proactive action in recovery efforts.

This track specifically focuses on the social side of resilience, aiming to pay attention to the concepts highlighted above, and seeking to create a dialogue on how the social side of resilience could be integrated in planning for resilience. One specific focus of this track is the role that the arts can play in enhancing a community’s resilience. The arts can create a focus for community interaction and participation, in this way, fostering collective action and the development of social capital. Research suggests that the arts can be considered to have a so-called ‘survival value’, by building resilience and providing the innovation necessary for communities to cope with change.

Track 3. Disaster management and disaster recovery

The dominant emphasis on disaster management in international protocols implies a focus on emergency relief in the initial period after disasters as well as on technical rebuilding tactics. However, there is very limited knowledge about longer-term recovery processes of places affected by catastrophes. A shift in thinking from disaster management towards disaster governance involving a transition from top-down steering by (central) governments towards more collaborative forms of multi-actor governance, focusing on longer-term processes of resilience building, can already be observed in academia. Is this transition towards disaster governance essential for practice as well, for increasing resilience of disaster-prone places and reducing their vulnerability? And more important, if the transition is desired by practitioners, then how can this transition be achieved?

This track has a threefold purpose. First, the aim is to understand the interactions between citizens, governments and non-governmental actors in the context of disasters. Second, this track aims at exploring in more detail the roles and responsibilities of different actors in different stages of the post-disaster transition. The third aim of this track is to foster a dialogue regarding the mutual exchange of knowledge between theory and practice in terms of disaster recovery processes.

Track 4 . Risk communication, public participation and capacity building

Within research on flood resilience, it has widely been recognized that effective communication about flood risk is integral to the flood risk management and flood resilience of a community. Risk awareness among citizens is considered to have several positive effects on enhancing the resilience of an area, it can, for example, increase public participation in plan making, the willingness to cooperate in making adjustments to private property as well as contribute to the effectiveness of evacuation. In addition, the risk management literature highlights the benefits of local knowledge as opposed to externally generated ‘expert information’. However, despite the existence of local networks which facilitate knowledge transfer, and ‘unofficial’ flood warning sources which may have a strong basis in past flood experience, it largely remains a challenge for official institutions to incorporate such local information and to involve the stakeholders more actively in their risk management plans.

Following from the above, this track focuses on exploring a) creative and innovative approaches and instruments to raise the risk awareness of citizens in order to build capacity and to increase disaster resilience and b) the opportunities and constraints for involving public stakeholders in (flood) risk management plans, in order to make use of and operationalize (existing) local knowledge and networks. While the description of the track focuses specifically on flood risk communication, the invitation for contributions is extended to communication and capacity building strategies relating to any (natural) disasters.

Last modified:16 April 2014 11.14 a.m.