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By Alice Hutchins

One of the most important aspects of DERN is the application and approval of grants that supply the necessary funding to promote projects and research around the world into the fields of disasters and emergencies. One of the applications for funding in 2019 is for Advancing Resilience and Innovation for Sustainable Ecosystems (ARISE). A group of scholars from across the UK, Europe, South Africa and the US, are collating research about energy policies and ecosystem structures, in order to preserve resources for the next generations and predict climate fluctuations for the prevention of future disasters.

The two main objectives of the project are to build resilience to short-term environmental shocks, and long term environmental changes, and to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable energy. This will be achieved through the creation of Resilience Action Plans, which are policies that outline the procedures for government reactions in cases of emergencies. The ARISE team will be the first to collate these policies from national and subnational authorities in order to analyse them and compare them with their impact in real-world situations. These policies are what allow governments to react in the aftermath of natural disasters, and they are what determine how large the negative impacts are on cities and communities. Resilience plans occur across three levels, resilience in Policy (dealing with the aftermath of disasters) resilience in Energy (creating sustainable energy systems in order to combat climate change) and resilience in Ecosystems (preventing the harmful effects of natural disasters on our environment and resources)

The grant for ARISE would contribute towards developing tools that can predict whether policies and programmes are effective in building resilience, and can offer statistics and accurate data to steer investments into the most efficient ways to spend funds in disaster management and prevention schemes. It is a universal aim of the scholars to advise governing bodies to build safe, resilient and sustainable cities/communities, and the approval of the grant would enable the team to gather the necessary data to make this achievable for all nations. Sustainable cities and communities share four aspects: local regeneration, environmental protection, social inclusion, and active democratic participation. In relation to the grant bid, this means that policy-makers need to consider the renewal and rebuilding of cities after critical events, they need to protect surrounding environments and minimize the damage, they need to ensure that all citizens are included in the recovery process, and that each person has a say in how their community is resurrected after tremors, tsunami’s and wild-fires.

ARISE aims to promote the training of a consortium of experts in resilience and energy planning and management, who will collect and maintain resilience data for analysis. Once the figures have been interpreted and evaluated for effectiveness, they will be used to advise these policy makers into how their sustainable goals are best achieved. ARISE will contribute towards ensuring communities are prepared for and protected from economic, social or environmental shocks. The data and statistics collected can also be used to evaluate how human behaviour can adapt to climate fluctuations and ensure national resilience policies give their communities affordable, reliable, energy.

We are presented with an opportunity to corroborate figures of resilience from several nations, and create a pathway in future years towards further grants and funding for larger-scale projects. Gina Yannitell Reinhardt, the founder of DERN and GSAN (Global South Academic Network) who is one of the leading researchers in the ARISE cohort says of the bid ‘My ultimate goal is to leverage ARISE’s dashboard and RI to secure funding for a permanent and fully-institutionalised Resilience Institute at UoE. A subsequent grant would extend the life and availability of ARISE outputs and expand their reach by adding sub-national data from around the world. This funding from Royal Society is therefore a critical building block in my pursuit of the Global Challenges through research and development.’

Alice is a Creative Writing Graduate from the University of East Anglia and has recently joined the ImpacTeam, Department of Government at the University of Essex.  This is Alice’s travel blog.