The project Building European Communities’ Resilience and Social Capital, BuildERS, 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”, says Mark Rhinard, Professor of International Relations at the Department of Economic History and International Relations, who is responsible for the project at Stockholm University. 

In his research he studies international cooperation on complex security threats and according to him, prior research on local vulnerability and risk to local populations during disasters show disproportionate effects within populations.

“The economically disadvantaged and elderly in environmentally sensitive areas, for instance, are particularly harshly affected. This reminds us to be cautious of ‘one size fits all’ solutions at the international level.”

BuildERS will improve the knowledge of these risk reduction dynamics by focusing on three research elements. One has to do with risk awareness and social trust within local communities. Another subject will be to study things like capacities and cultures of collaboration and shared values. Processes and methods to enhance resilience-building and coping skills will also be taken into account.

“We hope our research will provide international and national policymakers with a better sense of how global agreements can have their desired effect.”

The project, led by the Technical Research Institute of Finland (VTT), includes 17 partners and will last for 3 years. Stockholm University is granted a funding of 401 375 euro.