2014 Vol. 5, No. 1

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From Application to Evaluation: Addressing the Usefulness of Resilience and Vulnerability
Alexander Fekete, Gabriele Hufschmidt
2014, 5(1): 1-2. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0007-4
Benefits and Challenges of Resilience and Vulnerability for Disaster Risk Management
Alexander Fekete, Gabriele Hufschmidt, Sylvia Kruse
2014, 5(1): 3-20. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0008-3
This article addresses resilience and vulnerability as two prominent concepts within disaster risk science. The authors provide an overview of current uses and benefits of and challenges to resilience and vulnerability concepts for disaster risk management (DRM). The article summarizes the evolution of these concepts and of attempts to define them precisely, and addresses the potential benefits of conceptual vagueness. The usage and conception of resilience and vulnerability within a selection of strategies and legislations in DRM are compared. Complementing this analysis of disaster risk research and management practice, a survey identifies some of the benefits of and challenges to the concepts of resilience and vulnerability as seen by a peer-community. Synthesizing the three approaches, we conclude that a certain conceptual and methodological "haze" prevails, which hampers the transfer of information and findings within disaster risk science, from science to practice, and vice versa. But this vagueness offers opportunities for communication between disaster risk science, policy, and practice. Overall, evaluations of the resilience and vulnerability concepts are lacking, which demands the development of criteria to identify and assess the challenges to and benefits of resilience and vulnerability for DRM.
The Dynamic Knowledge Loop: Inter- and Transdisciplinary Cooperation and Adaptation of Climate Change Knowledge
Maria Hagemeier-Klose, Simone Annerose Beichler, Bart Jan Davidse, Sonja Deppisch
2014, 5(1): 21-32. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0015-4
The "dynamic knowledge loop" explores processes of knowledge generation, knowledge exchange, and social learning in inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation and relates them to adaptive capacity. Adaptive capacity building can reduce vulnerabilities and enhance the resilience of urban regions towards the impacts of climate change. We use a mix of empirical methods and apply the dynamic knowledge loop as an innovative analytical tool. The added value of inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation concerning knowledge generation and facilitation of social learning is discussed by applying the dynamic knowledge loop to research about a scenario-planning process and a participatory mapping exercise in the urban region of Rostock, Germany. The results demonstrate that the scenario planning process allowed for a consideration of complex interrelations that have the potential for an integration of different influences, perspectives, and knowledge forms. Scenario planning facilitated social learning by creating a platform for integration and exchange of different epistemologies and for considering alternative futures. The participatory mapping exercise demonstrated the scientific value of the integration of local knowledge as well. Building upon these results, we stress the importance of knowledge generation, knowledge exchange, and social learning to build up adaptive capacity through different forms of cooperation between science and practice.
Psychological Resilience Building in Disaster Risk Reduction: Contributions from Adult Education
Martha Höfler
2014, 5(1): 33-40. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0009-2
This article discusses three What opportunities exist to enhance psychological resilience in adults? Why should psychological resilience promotion be considered an important disaster risk reduction strategy? What contribution can adult education make to such a strategy? Psychological resilience is presented as relational and somewhat malleable, even in adulthood. Although psychological resilience building is often overlooked in sociallevel disaster risk reduction efforts, it is a key strategy for social resilience building. Questions regarding the extent to which mental resilience can be improved and the techniques with which to do so may be answered by research in the field of adult education. Basic learning and teaching research fundamentals are suggested to create psychological resilience-building strategies in adults.
Participatory Mapping of Local Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge: An Example from Switzerland
Christian Reichel, Urte Undine Frömming
2014, 5(1): 41-54. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0013-6
This article is based on comparative anthropological fieldwork conducted in the Alpine region of Switzerland on sustainable environmental knowledge about natural hazards related to climate change. It examines ways to complement the normative and technological practices of risk management by using local knowledge to improve the resilience of affected communities against climate-related risks. The study shows how agricultural practices and knowledge may contribute to sustainable behavior towards nature and the environment. It explores how local environmental knowledge, perceptions, and handling strategies of climate-related risks may be integrated within a renewed concept of environmental sustainability. Participatory GIS mapping (PGIS) is the primary research method used. Based on applied visual anthropological methods, PGIS is a cartographical approach that integrates local perceptions and strategies of action drawn from interviews and participant observation. This approach enables improved communication of local knowledge and contributes to interdisciplinary cooperation between different academic fields, such as social anthropology, geography, and civil-engineering in the context of technological risk management. The approach encourages the active participation of local people in the process of sustainable risk management through the integration of cultural meanings and local knowledge about the sustainable management of sensitive natural environments.
VuWiki: An Ontology-Based Semantic Wiki for Vulnerability Assessments
Bijan Khazai, Tina Kunz-Plapp, Christian Büscher, Antje Wegner
2014, 5(1): 55-73. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0010-9
Three decades of vulnerability research have generated a complex and growing body of knowledge. The concept of vulnerability, as well as its implementation in vulnerability assessments, is used in various disciplines and contexts. Correspondingly, a multitude of ideas and frameworks about how to conceptualize and measure vulnerability exists. To provide a structured representation of vulnerability, we have set up an ontology-based semantic wiki for reviewing and representing vulnerability assessments (www.vuwiki.org). Based on a survey of 55 vulnerability assessment studies, we first developed an ontology as an explicit reference system for describing vulnerability assessments. The ontology was then implemented in a semantic wiki which allows for the classification and annotation of vulnerability assessment. The resulting semantic wiki, VuWiki, does not aim at "synthesizing" a holistic and overarching model of vulnerability, but at (1) providing—both scientists and practitioners—with a uniform ontology as a reference system; (2) providing easy and structured access to the knowledge field of vulnerability assessments with the possibility for any user to retrieve assessments using specific research criteria; and (3) serving as a collaborative knowledge platform that allows for the active participation of those generating and using the knowledge represented in the vulnerability wiki.
Blind Spots on Achilles' Heel: The Limitations of Vulnerability and Resilience Mapping in Research
Jessica Heesen, Daniel F. Lorenz, Michael Nagenborg, Bettina Wenzel, Martin Voss
2014, 5(1): 74-85. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0014-5
The mapping of vulnerability and resilience has become an important tool for vulnerability and resilience research. By definition, maps are selective representations. However, the predominant methods of mapping also have constraints. When addressing vulnerability and resilience, these limitations, barriers, and blind spots have to be taken into account. Some aspects cannot be easily mapped, such as specific forms of knowledge and interpretation, the processuality of vulnerability and resilience, the dynamics of social processes, the context of origin, the establishment of contingent interpretations, and so on. These limitations are not only theoretically important, but also are practically significant, since maps themselves become dispositifs. They are regarded as representations of reality, shape particular interpretations of vulnerability and resilience, and are used as a basis for decision-making. If the unmapped preconditions of mapping remain unconsidered, this can lead to problematic side effects.
Vulnerability and Resilience Research: A Critical Perspective
Hannes Taubenböck, Christian Gei
2014, 5(1): 86-87. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0011-8
Loss and Damage as an Alternative to Resilience and Vulnerability? Preliminary Reflections on an Emerging Climate Change Adaptation Discourse
Alexander Fekete, Patrick Sakdapolrak
2014, 5(1): 88-93. doi: 10.1007/s13753-014-0012-7
One relatively novel way of assessing the characteristics and limitations of resilience and vulnerability (R&V) is undertaken in this article by investigating a growing alternative paradigm—loss and damage (L&D) policy. The idea of L&D as an emerging policy may be surprising to many in the disaster risk management community, and so we first outline the origins of this trend, and then explore the potential benefits and pitfalls of adopting it. This short article represents our preliminary opinions and observations regarding this reintroduction of a longestablished concept. We also present results from a very brief peer-group survey on some of the first immediate reactions towards L&D policy. At this early stage, this article cannot offer a full-fledged analysis, but our reflections may serve as a starting point to encourage further discussion.