nOTION OF risks and resilience IN THE territories 



After having emphasized the concept of vulnerability, for several years risk management has been enriched by a new notion, that of resilience, which has expanded the way the relation between society and risks (natural or technological) is perceived. Sometimes seen as the positive side of vulnerability, resilience is an integrating notion, with quite widespread acceptance, which is concerned not only with the capacities of a social group and/or territory (or, more broadly, a socio-technical, ecological, etc. system) to confront a disaster, but also with their abilities to recover. By centering the analysis on conditions which allow greater robustness or better adaptation to various eventualities, or which facilitate a better “return to equilibrium” following a catastrophic event, this notion has led to a change in viewpoint. It may be asked what the effects of this change will be on the stages of risk management, as well as on the objects of the study themselves:


1)                 Beginning with the risk analysis, through prevention, protection, reduction of vulnerability, the return to normal, and continuing on to post-disaster reconstruction (“Build Back Better”, International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction – ISDR, 2015, taken up and developed in the “seven pillars of risk prevention”), do risk management methods and practices integrate the notion of resilience and, if so, with what benefits? If they do not, why? Has the way risks are managed been modified? Experiences with reconstruction and with new equilibriums following a disaster are particularly anticipated; have they enriched the way risks are managed, and how? What subsequent activities do they make it possible to develop and implement? Briefly, the question here is how resilience is integrated in all phases of risk management, which it could modify.

2)                 Individuals, buildings, farms, economic activities, equipment, etc. exposed to risk are not independent elements, but are integrated in complex systems (such as organizations, territories, societies) that need to function satisfactorily after a disruptive event. Beyond a sectoral approach to risk, does the notion of resilience allow this complexity to be taken into account through a more systemic vision that is better related to the functioning of systems and territories? Does it lead to innovative practices? For example, does the notion of resilience allow the question of technical networks and their vulnerability to flooding to be better addressed? Or does it make it possible for new actors to appear? Or for the role of the citizen in risk management to evolve? On the other hand, is the systemic vision incompatible with the rigor of sectoral approaches?

3)                 More fundamentally, it could be asked what the notion of resilience entails with respect to a change in the way we think about risk and our environment. What does this change indicate? What are the new models that emerge with this notion, and what do they offer in regard to concrete action and risk management at territorial level?

What is being examined here is the capacity of our societies and territories to confront natural and technological disasters. Beyond questions related to the mobilization and operational effectiveness of the notion of resilience that are at the heart of the colloquium, communications are being called for on all types of experience with taking the notion of resilience into account in risk management. Although natural risks are at the center of the topics to be discussed during the colloquium, the contribution that can be provided by work on technological risks will also be considered since the issues of resilience and the return to equilibrium following a disaster are common to all types of risks.

For further information please contact: n.sheibani@shf-hydro.org

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