Partnerships with social and economic actors

Work package typ: Development

Reference number: 6

The objective of WP6 is to develop the capacity of partner HEIs to explore, promote and initiate opportunities for fruitful partnerships with social and economic actors to enhance MHEW and ensure wider social and economic benefits.

As stressed by Basher (2006), to be effective, MHEW systems for natural hazards need to have not only a sound scientific and technical basis, but also a strong focus on the people exposed to risk, and with a systems approach that incorporates all of the relevant factors in that risk, whether arising from the natural hazards or social vulnerabilities, and from short-term or long-term processes.

The shortcomings in preparation across Asia and elsewhere have been due to a lack of warning through poor regional detection and communication systems, but they also reflect inadequate awareness, planning and coordination.

Recent studies and practical experiences of hazards (e.g., Thomalla and Larsen, 2010) suggest that technological aspects of MHEW development have been receiving considerably more attention than human aspects such as hazard awareness, disaster preparedness, reconciling priorities in the context of multiple agendas. More attention needs to be paid to the cognitive and normative challenges in positioning MHEW systems and preparedness in the wider context of social change in the coastal societies and communities at risk. Better platforms for knowledge sharing are required to enable stakeholders to collectively negotiate these challenges, to improve the integration of MHEW with other priorities such as livelihoods improvement, natural resource management and community development, and to provide opportunities for critical reflection of 'on-the-ground' experiences. This can only be achieved through multi-stakeholder engagement, in particular, through improving the interface between scientists and wider social and economic actors.

The science and academic community has a critical role in providing specialised scientific and technical input to assist governments and communities in developing MHEW systems. Their expertise is central to analysing natural hazard risks facing communities, supporting the design of scientific and systematic monitoring and warning services, supporting data exchange, translating scientific or technical information into comprehensible messages, and to the dissemination of understandable warnings to those at risk. Higher education also has a critical role in developing human capacity through education.

The definition of social and economic actors can be broad in this context and this will be refined through the partnership development strategy. However, key actors will include those responsible for effective governance and institutional arrangements, the involvement of local communities, as well as gender perspectives and cultural diversity. In developing MHEW systems it is essential to recognize that different groups have different vulnerabilities according to culture, gender or other characteristics that influence their capacity to effectively prepare for, prevent and respond to disasters. Women and men often play different roles in society and have different access to information in disaster situations. In addition, the elderly, disabled and socio-economically disadvantaged are often more vulnerable. These actors are likely to include: communities and their representatives; local government; national government; regional institutions; international bodies; non governmental instititions; the private sector.

This need for greater partnership has been further stressed within The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, signed by 187 member states in 2015, and that will chart the global course over the next 15 years. MHEW is one of three global targets within the framework. The concept of ‘Words Into Action’ is strongly embedded within the Framework. During the consultations and negotiations that led to its finalisation, strong calls were made to develop practical guidance to support implementation, ensure engagement and ownership of action by all stakeholders, and strengthen accountability in disaster risk reduction. Partnerships between higher education and social and economic actors can help to ensure high impact, relevant outcomes from science and education.

Through the secondment strategy, WP6 will attempt to tackle the following issues: How can universities work better with social and economic actors to meet the needs of high-level, skills and competence building towards MHEW, and contribute to ‘words into action’? What forms of skills and workforce development are possible through the mobility of talents between university and non-academic sector? What funding and institutional mechanisms are needed to achieve circulation of knowledge and formation of competence and skills through the mobility of talents between academic and non-academic sectors? How do scientists learn through such mobility experiences, and how would that be embedded within social and economic actors?

As a starting point, the CABARET project will seek secondment opportunities for the academics in the MHEW research areas, so that it will act as a conduit to facilitate further social and economic actors / university collaborations. This secondment strategy will be developed through the outcomes of training workshops where both practice based experts, trainees and senior academics are present. These partnerships will help ensuring future sustainability of improved capacities of partner institutions through log term collaborations and funded research.

The CABARET consortia includes several associated partners (IOC/UNESCO, ADPC, FSLGA) from the non-academic sectors who will contribute to the design and delivery of training, sharing their views on university - academic links, and providing some staff with secondment opportunities.

For example, the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, based in Thailand, has been working for nearly 30 years in contributing to make Asia-Pacific safer by strengthening disaster resilience at all levels. ADPC is as an independent non-governmental organization. It works in a number of countries in the Asia region including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi-Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam. With headquarters located in Bangkok, Thailand, ADPC has country offices in Bangladesh, Lao PDR and Myanmar. ADPC's well-established networks with government line agencies and strong partnerships with regional organizations and development agencies provide the foundation for their work. ADPC will be able to offer wide-ranging secondment opportunities for partners and also has extensive experience of working with higher education. They will also provide input towards training events linking with WPs in sharing their experiences in collaborating with academic and research, and putting together policy alongside with HEIs.

Similarly, the Federation of Sri Lankan Local Government Authorities (FSLGA) is the umbrella organisation for local government associations in Sri Lanka and its objectives include: To co-ordinate a unified approach among Local Government Authorities in Sri Lanka to resolve common issues and develop participatory governance for the well being of citizen; To increase the voices and effective participation of councillors in Local Government planning, development and decision making within the framework of participatory democracy and an associative spirit; and to strengthen the functioning and capacity of Local Government Authorities, and facilitate co-operation among all tiers for effective service delivery and development at all levels. FSLGA will contribute experience of the interface between government, the private sector and higher education, recognising their key roles in improving MHEW.


6.1 Prepare a university – social and economic actor strategy and implement a secondment plan for partner institutions: The strategy and secondment plan will be informed by the capacity development framework produced in WP1, thereby ensuring that the programme directly addresses national and regional priorities. To implement this task, the workshops organised as a part of the training sessions are expected to be used as a springboard. Within the training workshops, discussions are facilitated to gather secondment opportunities from various Associate Partners, and the buy-ins from the academic partners. Finalised secondment arrangements are not the expected outcome of this facilitation, rather it is about initiating and generating the interests of all the parties, by making them aware of mutual benefits. At the same time, a separated discussion forum will be created to facilitate further development of these facilities and a report will be produced documenting the identified “actors” and potential scope of opportunities for secondments. The secondment plan will document staff selection procedures, and methods for monitoring and reporting of secondments in accordance with the quality plan (WP3).

6.2 Deliver social and economic partnership training workshops: A series of face-to-face training workshops will be held. The precise content will be developed based on the capacity development framework (WP1) and partnerships strategy. However, it is anticipated that the following broad topics will be covered: Pathways to impact; Public engagement; Philosophy of secondments – inter and intra settings; Public, private or third sector insights; Cluster building management; Cross sector project development. In addition, It will develop partners’ skills to create practical toolkits and guides that contribute to developing regional and national strategies for multi-hazard early warning. It will also focus on promoting communication efforts towards improving the perception of stakeholders and governments on the benefits of MHEW, on securing stakeholder and government commitment to the United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-30.

All materials will be archived as MOOCs (Major Online Open Courses) within the CABARET online capacity building forum (WP7). The Associated Partners, representing a range of non-academic institutions, will contribute to the design and delivery of these workshops.

6.3 Facilitate social and economic actor secondments: Selected staff from partners will benefit from meaningful exposure to the non-academic sector with different cultures consisting of a range of stakeholders/actors involved in MHEW, including: communities and their representatives; local government; national government; regional institutions; international bodies; non governmental instititions; the private sector. Selection procedures including key dates, who can apply, how to apply, what information needs to be submitted along with the application, assessment procedures will be established which are open, efficient, transparent, supportive and internationally comparable, as well as tailored to the type of opportunities available.