Vulnerability has long been a key concept in disaster literature. However, the majority of studies have focused on research related to the hazard, therefore neglecting the influence of the vulnerability of exposed systems to the consequences of such hazards, such as the death toll and losses from natural or man-made disasters. There is also a need to better identify and measure the ability of 'at risk' and affected communities and territorial systems to respond to such disasters. This was the starting point of the ENSURE project.
The basic assumption of ENSURE was that our ability to better understand and evaluate different types of vulnerabilities constitutes a crucial tool to strengthen communities in the face of disasters due to extreme events and climate change. Improving the understanding of the factors that make a community more vulnerable is crucial. This involved addressing the various physical, psychological, cultural, systemic, social and economic components that shape the relationship between societies and the "natural" environment to permit more tailored and articulated mitigation measures. The project involved 10 partner institutions from France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
ENSURE has contributed to an improved analysis of vulnerability for improving the resilience of communities. The overall objective of the project was to develop a new methodological framework for Integrated Multi-Scale Vulnerability Assessment. The framework is based on a comprehensive, integrated and inter-disciplinary understanding of how mitigation strategies can be improved in the future; it will hopefully contribute to the reduction of human losses, economic damage and social disruption due to extreme events striking communities exposed to a variety of natural hazards, as well as to the potential consequences of Climate Change.
Specific impacts are to:
1. Provide support for policy decisions with key stakeholders, at various scales, relating to prevention measures and plans in order to minimise damage from natural disasters;
2. Present, through the Integrated Multi-Scale Vulnerability Assessment, a feasible tool to improve communication with local communities in the process of raising risk awareness, on technological expertise, and for a better understanding of social and cultural factors to help increase public involvement;
3. Understand adaptation and resilience factors, and system responses, which help to minimize risks from natural and human-triggered technological disasters; included within this is the ability to assess the vulnerability of strategic facilities and infrastructures;
4. Improve our understanding of environmental vulnerability to some natural disasters, and particularly to some of the secondary consequences e.g. due to the interaction between vulnerable assets, wrong risk management practices and the "natural environment".
2008 – 2011
FHRC Project Manager: