Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN08_07: Resilience: Concepts and Perspectives
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Antti Edward Silvast, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Location: UP.4.214
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road

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How (not) to Develop Resilient Societies? – Conceptual and Empirical Remarks on the Social Aspects of Resilience

Peter Balogh

University of Szeged, Hungary

In the presentation I wish to (I.) argue that when intended to comprehend the social background and agency of a resilient society it might be fruitful to differentiate between two mechanisms or particular types. The (1) formalized/institutionalized and the (2) socially embedded forms – or rather aspects – of resilience reflect that both the macro-level and structural conditions, and the micro-level with the key element of individual action play an important role when a society is challenged by certain crises or threats. I offer an approach that compound and effective resilience capacity emerges if the problems of cooperation and coordination of various resources are properly disentangled.

In order to empirically shed light on resilience when challenged under real circumstances I (II.) demonstrate a case study investigating the migrant/refugee crisis in Hungary. By analysing data from various sources and applying both social network analysis and descriptive statistical methods the case study reveals a noteworthy capacity of the social sphere (e.g. emergence of solidarity groups, volunteer activities) to respond to the challenge and foster resilience. However these social initiatives – due to the polarized structure of the society – prove to be rather dissonant considering their objectives, target groups and practical activities, therefore a fragmented pattern emerges. Furthermore the two, conceptually distinguished forms of resilience seem to unfold parallel in time but in contrary direction, resulting in a less robust resilience and an essentially counterproductive pattern.

Accordingly it might be acknowledged that social resources can be utilized effectively in a challenging situation, but in the absence of a common perception and in a dominantly polarized social context it might be rather complicated to achieve resilience.

Security Targets for Critical Infrastructures

Jennifer Hartmann, Agnetha Schuchardt, Thomas Kox

Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Preventing or mitigating both natural and man-made disasters is an important goal of security research. We focus on protecting critical infrastructures (CI) – such as the energy or food sector – as they allow for the functioning of a society. Failure of these facilities can lead to long-lasting supply shortages and security disturbances. CI protection is a task of both private operators and public authorities. While the latter have the obligation for protecting CI, they lack necessary resources and expertise because they are not involved in the daily business of e. g. the food industry. However, private operators (mostly large companies) have all required assets, but they do not perceive protective measures as their responsibility. We propose a solution for this issue: Security targets. They establish common goals for different stakeholders who are involved in CI and their protection. Security targets describe a desired status that has to be maintained during or after a crisis. They are the basis for preventive and responsive measures that should be implemented in a centralized manner. In Germany, however, only few security targets have been defined so far. One rare example is the legal specification of 15 liters of drinking water that have to be provided for each person in a crisis. Until today, many questions remain unanswered: Who has to define security targets? Who is in charge of their implementation? How should the negotiation process be structured? In our contribution, we will present guidelines and answers to these questions on the basis of a literature review, an expert workshop (30 participants) and an online expert survey (more than 300 participants). The food sector serves as an example.

Infrastructure Resilience and Energy Systems Integration

Antti Silvast2, Simone Abram1

1Durham University, United Kingdom; 2Norwegian University of Science and Technology

To limit the impacts of climate change, energy infrastructures are facing a progressive closure of fossil fuel plants and increasing deployment of renewable energy resources. These renewable resources - such as solar and wind - are essentially intermittent, dependent on the weather and season. Due to this, many experts now envision that more flexible energy systems have become necessary in the future. Over the past five years, an important line of thinking has argued that this flexibility increases by integrating various different energy systems i.e. Energy Systems Integration (ESI); such as gas supplies, electricity, heating, electric vehicles and cross-border exchanges between national energy systems. This presentation develops an interdisciplinary social science perspective on this subject and draws upon participant observation, expert interviews and document analysis that were carried out within a large five-year UK research consortium on ESI. The goal of this consortium is to develop computer models, real demonstrators and conceptual understanding of ESI and our task has been to analyse their working practices ethnographically. In the presentation, we present some of these key practices and draw out our overarching observations on how energy integration relates to the reliability of energy infrastructures and their ability to 'bounce back' after the impacts of different risks and disasters. We suggest that experts see unique possibilities for infrastructure resilience by increasing coordination between energy systems that often have very different physical characteristics, geographical scales and temporalities and hence undiscovered synergies. On the other hand, in terms of disaster, conflict and crisis, energy integration also gives rise to more interconnected and complex energy systems, whose possible implications for systemic risks, responsibilities and security of supply we discuss in the presentation.

Strengthening Resilience of German Emergency Responders

Agnetha Schuchardt, Sophie Kroeling

Freie University Berlin, Germany

Emergency responders have to face various stressful situations. Based on psychological stress theories, resources and different coping strategies can be helpful to cope with these events and to build up resilience. This contribution focuses on how emergency responders in Germany cope with stressors like emotional proximity in duty and how resilience can be improved. A quantitative survey of more than 700 emergency responders has been conducted and a regression model has been analyzed. Relevant resources and successful coping strategies, predicting resilience, were identified. Results show that emergency responders in Germany are exposed to stressors that occur on deployment-related and organizational levels. A lack of information are e.g. perceived as very stressful. Emergency responders possess individual, social and organizational resources and coping strategies that enhance their resilience: Problem-focused coping e.g. is found to increase resilience whereas emotion-oriented coping however seems to be negatively related to resilience. Individual resources, especially self-efficacy and ambiguity tolerance hold special esteem in explaining resilience. Suggestions for the improvement of the emergency responder’s resilience through strengthening individual resources will be given and it will be discussed how this can make a contribution to strive for civil protection. Results will be incorporated in prospective trainings for emergency responders.

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