NH9.2Social capacity building: an emerging field of research and practice for Europe
Social capacity building for natural hazards is a topic gaining relevance not only for so-called developing countries but also for European welfare states which are continuously and increasingly challenged by the social, economic and ecological impacts of natural hazards. This is quite remarkable, as European countries have so far been considered as the capacity builders; the idea that it is necessary to build capacities in Europe itself is rather a recent one and implies that there is also a lack of capacities on the part of contemporary European societies. The aim of this session is to offer a forum to different views and conceptualisations in this emerging field of research and practice and to attempt to structure it by identifying different types of capacities, discussing various approaches to social capacity building as well as best practices. We encourage contributions from a broad range of research and policy initiatives centring on more established concepts in risk and hazard research such as (1) risk governance (e.g. how is the risk governance landscape in Europe, but also in other parts of the world, changing and what implications does this have for building social capacities?); (2) risk perception (e.g. how does people’s risk awareness influence their capacity to adapt to and cope with natural hazards?) (3), social vulnerability (e.g. how are people’s capacities influencing their vulnerability?), (4) risk communication (e.g. which form of communication seems particularly relevant for developing capacities?) and (5) risk education (e.g. how can we develop capacities in the long term by starting at a young age?).
We welcome both conceptual and empirical contributions from a European and Non-European context taking into account distinct levels (local, regional, national, European), various actors (organizations, private households, local communities) and different sectors (public, private, professional etc.) of social capacity building for natural hazards. Further questions to be answered in this context could be: Who are the actors of social capacity building? What are the goals of social capacity building and who defines them? On which existing knowledge stocks and research traditions can we base respective research – and which questions still need to be solved?