June 12, 2014 Knowledge exchange between researchers and other stakeholders at SSEESS seminar on hazards management


Interdisciplinary research can sometimes be challenging but it can also lead to many new opportunities, troche especially when tackling global environmental climate change issues. This became clear when Simon Hollis, and Johan Berglund and Johan Bergström, three postdoctoral students funded by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), presented their research findings to funders and other stakeholders at a seminar on hazards management on May 12, 2014 which was organised by SSEESS. Neda Farahbakhshazad, SSEESS scientific adviser, opened the event and was followed by the three postdocs giving insights into disaster risk management and building societal resilience. Presenting their research findings at this seminar gave the researchers the opportunity to spread their knowledge amongst a wider audience, listen to feedback, and network with funders and other stakeholders.

MSB workshop May 2014
The three MSB postdoctoral researchers Johan Bergström, Simon Hollis, and Johan Berglund. Photo: Ellenor Devine


The presentations by the three MSB postdoctoral researchers

First, Simon Hollis from the Swedish National Defence College presented his research on “the role of the international community in supporting disaster management practices in the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands”. The purpose of this research is to understand why international assistance has been fairly ineffective in supporting small island developing states to become more resilient to natural hazards. According to Simon’s preliminary results, international support in prevention and preparedness is unequally distributed between the two regions. Countries in the Pacific that have a high level of risk receive relatively less assistance in comparison to countries in the Caribbean that have a comparatively lower level of risk. Simon argued that the knowledge of disaster management should be communicated better in order to improve the demand for assistance and the distribution of the support in these countries.

Then, Johan Berglund from Linnaeus University talked about how education, skills, critical thinking, and corporate culture within an organisation can affect the outcome when facing an unexpected or catastrophic event. As a case study, Johan has been using the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, 2011.

Last but not least, Johan Bergström from Lund University introduced societal resilience as a concept which is currently being introduced to the world-wide discourse of public safety and security. In Johan’s project, he looks at the differing conditions that affect the potential for the societal resilience to be introduced in public discourse in Sweden, Brazil and Australia. Johan also presented some of the effects of this occuring, mainly the emphasising of collective, decentralised action as key to building resilience.

Contribution from funders and other stakeholders

The postdoctoral research programme, through which Simon, Johan and Johan are funded, was announced collaboratively by SSEESS and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) in spring 2012. At the SSEESS seminar, Peter Green from MSB informed the audience about the kind of research they support. This is primarily applied, needs-oriented research that is multi-and interdisciplinary, relevant for society and intended to lead to an increased ability to solve societal problems.

When engaging in certain programmes about global environmental change issues such as programmes from the International Council for Science (ICSU), researchers also have the opportunity to obtain grants from SSEESS. In line with the seminar topic, Genene Mulugeta from Uppsala University introduced one such programme: the ICSU programme on Hazards and Disasters (IRDR). He also presented information on ICSU’s regional hazards management science plan. Genene emphasised the need for an improved science-policy communication in Africa and for societies, through improved policies and communication, to adapt to the conditions that environment and climate change will bring to the livelihood of the poor and most vulnerable people.

Lively discussions moderated by Rebecca Oliver, from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA), engaged the audience in sharing ideas and knowledge about research on hazards management and social resilience. Besides the three postdocs, Sarah Cornell from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Karin Mossberg from Sonnek (Swedish Defence Research Agency), Sven Halldin from Uppsala University, and a panel consisting of Peter Green (MSB), Susann Ullberg (Swedish National Defence College) and Thomaz Carlzon (the Red Cross) provided the audience with food for thoughts.