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A special event hosted by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security:

Theme of the 2013 Resilience Academy: exploring livelihood resilience

The 2013 Resilience Academy will take place in Bangladesh. This 1st Resilience Academy will explore the following core questions with leading experts from academia, policy and practice:

  • What tools exist for risk assessment and identification of climate hot spots?
  • How can adaptive capacity and resilience in rural and urban livelihood systems be defined and measured?
  • What are the main contributors and impediments to climate resilience, theory and in practice?
  • What strategies are available for peoples facing overwhelming extremes?
  • What can be done to enhance the adaptive capacity and resilience to the climate stressors they face today and in the future?

The dialogue between academia, policy and practice will be at the heart of the Academy, with opportunities for interdisciplinary engagement, time to think and collaborate on specific topics and practical interaction. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks to a generous gift from an alumnus of Durham University, IHRR is offering a new Postgraduate Fellowship designed to support a PhD studentship for 3 years in IHRR. The Postgraduate Fellowship will fund a new PhD research project located in a suitable academic department. The project will be conducted in a region of the world with relatively limited economic resources, where the community is at risk of natural disaster or other environmental hazard which puts lives and/or livelihoods at risk.

The aim is to carry out academically rigorous research which has a tangible, practical, deliverable outcome in helping to enhance knowledge about effective ways to build resilience against the hazards faced, and to share this knowledge with people in the community where the work is carried out. This purpose accords very closely with the aims of IHRR and the student awarded this Fellowship will be very welcome as a valued partner in the Institute.

Applications can be considered for PhD projects in all disciplines and from students overseas or within the EU. The Fellowship is designed to cover tuition fees, maintenance stipend and an element for costs of work in the field or laboratory work. For further information download the application. Deadline is 30 May 2013. For any enquiries about the fellowship email for the attention of Professor Sarah Curtis, Executive Director of IHRR.

Resilience can mean many things to different people, spanning art, culture, history, language, science and nature, to name but a few. What is fascinating about resilience is that it may not be limited to words.  Photography can be used to explore a highly ambiguous term by revealing its meaning through pictures.  Not long ago IHRR held an online photo competition to see how people viewed resilience from their perspective.  What we received in response was a wide range of photos, from portraits of people to landscapes, ways of life and survival.  These photos tell stories of resilience in both personal and universal ways.  Since we couldn’t include all of the photos in the next issue of our magazine Hazard Risk Resilience, we decided to post some of the runners-up here for everyone to see. Read more

Programme for Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid

19th April 2013, 10:00 to 13:00, Elvet Riverside 2, Room 231, Durham University
Weather-related disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity leading to more cold spells, flooding and droughts and other extreme weather events. These can cause loss of life and livelihoods as well as damage the environment. These can be stressful for local communities, sometimes requiring extensive external assistance, often delivered as emergency and/or humanitarian aid. This seminar considers disaster research findings from one project based in Sri Lanka and another in the UK and raises important questions of interest to emergency planners and humanitarian aid workers. There will be opportunities for practitioners to discuss issues that arise for them. This event is co-organised by IHRR associate director Prof Lena Dominelli.
Places are limited, so please contact Carole Pickering at to book.

The term resilience is ambiguous, but is popular enough to spread widely throughout culture. Resilience literally means to ‘bounce back’. It is used virtually everywhere, from sport to science, environmental, economic and global policy.  As far as science is concerned, it seems to have been used in physics and ecology first (C.S. Holling), but it is also used frequently in the social sciences (see ‘Putting a Face on Resilience’ in HRR magazine).  Psychologists and psychiatrists talk about examples of personal resilience, especially in young people (see Norman Garmezy).

One big question about resilience is whether it actually means something universal or has its repeated use reduced it to nonsense?  During times of disaster, a radically changing climate and global financial crisis, it seems resilience allows people to talk about methods of recovery that were either unknown, not thought about as much, or never existed.

Resilience 1800

I thought it would be interesting to check on how often resilience has been used in books using Google’s Ngram tool.  Researchers with the Tipping Points project use data from Ngrams in many of their studies on the use of emotion words for example as well as the use of climate science terms, both of which are on downward trends at the moment.  The term ‘tipping point’ itself has also been studied by researchers and reached its peak in academic publications some years ago. Read more


The UK’s chief government scientist Sir John Beddington announced that world leaders need to urgently tackle climate change, especially because of increasing trends towards more extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and storms over the next 25 years.  The more extreme and erratic forms of weather that the UK has experienced in recent years may become more common due to a changing climate.

Prof Sarah Curtis who is the Executive Director of the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience was interviewed by both television and radio media recently about what can be expected for the future.  Prof Curtis  mentioned the importance of planning with local authorities and national planning being taken by government to adapt to a changing climate, and that focused preparation and planning are needed to cope with variable climate and extreme weather events. Read more

Desertification is not only a problem for the countries that experience it, but for the entire planet.  In this talk given by Allan Savory on TED, he explains how managing grasslands ‘holistically’ can reduce desertification, namely ‘by keeping cattle more densely packed on small plots of land and moving them frequently‘.  This keeps herds from overgrazing and fertilises the land at the same time, restoring its nutrients.  And if you can prevent grasslands from turning into desert they can remove carbon dioxide from the air, helping to mitigate carbon emissions that cause climate change.  Simple, yet effective and cattle grazing, often viewed as ecologically destructive, becomes an environmental solution, not a problem.  It also seems a great way to assist pastoralist communities in Africa.

A video from Climate Change TV featuring IHRR Co-Director Prof Lena Dominelli on how social work can help communities make the transitions to renewable sources of energy to mitigate carbon emissions and adapt to climate change.

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Espen Rasmussen/Panos Pictures

When you think of resilience what is the first image that comes to mind?  It could be a person, an animal, a building, a city, even an island or forest.  However you think of resilience we want to hear from you.  Send us some of your best photos of resilience and if we think they’re as brilliant as you do we’ll publish them in the next issue of IHRR’s magazine, Hazard Risk Resilience.  We are interested in seeing resilience from a wide variety of perspectives such as science, art, nature or architecture, the possibilities are limitless. Read more

In this IHRR podcast, Prof Lena Dominelli introduces the role of social work in disaster intervention using the example of  recovery efforts during the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami in Sri Lanka.  Prof Dominelli is a lead researcher on Project Sri Lanka at Durham University and an Associate Director of IHRR.  As both a sociologist and social worker, her research has been published widely.  Her latest book, Green Social Work, looks at environmental issues from a social work perspective.


Transcription of podcast:

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Hazard Risk Resilience Magazine Issue 2 Out Now!

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