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Stakeholder Engagement to RE-Energize DR3 Governance

Disaster risk reduction and resilience (DR3) is a cross-cutting challenge in the context of climate emergency, Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 13.1 is about strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries. Two elements in particular play a major role in DR3 governance: ensuring an efficient exchange of information/data processes across stakeholder groups, and participatory and equitable decision-making processes to influence DR3 processes.

The UK (UCL) and USA (UNC) research teams, part of the Belmont Re-Energize DR3 consortium, delivered a unique session under the Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress 2021 to showcase their innovative multi-disciplinary approaches for stakeholder identification, selection and engagement process.

This conference held between June 12 - 15 is a joint initiative of Future Earth and the Belmont Forum uniting leaders, experts, industry and innovators in the world’s first transdisciplinary gathering with more than 100 sessions available under a rich agenda that included workshops, training and more. Under the themes of integrated action for the SDGs, Resilience and ‘Sustainability for Who?’, UCL and UNC discussed the collaborative work on stakeholder mapping along power, legitimacy and urgency dimensions, combining the following methods: criterion-I, snowball and purposeful random. We found that groups we considered to be vulnerable and most impacted by DR3 are often characterized as low power, high urgency, and with varying levels of legitimacy. The Snow Angel method presented by UNC recognizes that further away from the angel’s center, the less engaged stakeholders tend to be on a particular issue, so we attempt to rectify the need for broad stakeholder input while recognizing that those most impacted (or vulnerable) and those with power likely have the deepest stake in the issues at hand. To guarantee diversity among invited stakeholders the teams are also considering multi-gender, multi-ethnicity, inter-sectoral and multi-scalar aspects. For the stakeholder engagement process, UCL presented a mixed method approach that combines Policy Delphi and Q-method. Both of these methods deal largely with statements and rating scales to reveal positions within a panel of people, allowing for an organised way of correlating views and information. Its multiple rounds will provide participants with an opportunity to react to and assess differing viewpoints, which will help our work of mapping out experts’ judgements and underlying reasoning on complex DR3 issues and indicators. UCL’s proposed structure for the group communication will involve multiple rounds of surveys and discussions with panel of stakeholders in different coastal cities and islands. The Q-method will be applied under one of the rounds of the Policy Delphi, as technique for eliciting diverse perspectives, exploring how stakeholders rank-order statements into a normal distribution (− to +) grid. In light of the uncertainties involving DR3 and multiple interests that are directly or indirectly affected by decision making, especially with regards to resource allocation, collating multiple views, including those of vulnerable communities, is the way we advocate equitable resilience and reduce disaster risks can be promoted. Organizational culture was raised as key point by one of the attendees, so we flagged up that it plays a crucial role in disaster risk reduction and resilience, because it can affect the way different actors understand and interpret information and how they interact.

Another challenge discussed with the conference participants is how to develop a common set of DR3 indicators for cross-cultural comparison, while recognising that indicators should be sensitive to local contextual conditions and the temporal dimension. The balanced scorecard (BSC) being developed by UCL and UNC has differences and similarities in its approach. Both teams adapted the four dimensions of the BSC to define them as finance, process, beneficiaries, and learning and innovation. However, the timesteps are different in each of them, because UCL follows the UK’s Integrated Emergency Management split in six related phases: anticipation, assessment, prevention, preparation to deal with pre-emergency elements; response and recovery to deal with post-emergency elements. While UNC followed the period identified by Toklu (2017) – response, recovery, mitigation and preparedness.

In one the polls shared with those attending our session we asked if participants would select the four or six time-steps when considering the phases of emergency management for research, planning, and/or policy. The split views show that both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. Whereas the 6-time steps support a more detailed look at pre-emergency stages to account for disaster risk reduction, vulnerabilities and its drivers before an emergency happens, the 4-time steps may facilitate cross-cultural comparison between nations with different levels of management capacity.

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