The ENGAGE project officially started

The ENGAGE project officially started! At the beginning of July, 37 organisations from different countries met virtually to launch ENGAGE. ENGAGE stands for “Engage Society for Risk Awareness and Resilience”. This 3-year project, co-funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, will run until June 2023.

ENGAGE addresses research and innovation on resilience. Resilience is an intrinsic ability of society to adjust its functioning and sustain operations prior, during and after disasters. ENGAGE aims to link the informal resilience naturally inherent in citizens with the formal work of authorities to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. To this end, the project will provide solutions to support the engagement of citizens, communities and authorities in a “whole-of-society” approach. This will allow capitalising on the knowledge, capabilities and social capital existing at all levels of society.

Disasters remind us that the ability of societies to adapt and prosper depends on the collective action of society. Current knowledge, strategies and methods for societal risk governance largely focus on the efforts of public authorities to protect citizens from harm. However, this underestimates the fact that citizens themselves constitute sources of resilience, as well as the huge diversity in the contexts in which knowledge, tools and methods are to be applied. In this collective effort, citizens and communities can also play a significant role at a grassroots level. But how can this role effectively contribute to the formal operational practices of public authorities?

ENGAGE aims to show how individuals and local practices can interrelate effectively with planned preparedness and response, practitioners, and technology. ENGAGE’s mission is to provide knowledge and impactful solutions for exploiting Europe’s hidden and unused resource: its inherent resilience.

ENGAGE: Engage Society for Risk Awareness and Resilience

Firstly, the project will identify and collect previous efforts used by real world practitioners and citizens. These may include knowledge, strategies, methods, tools, and practices. It will then combine and extend them to create innovative solutions for disaster management and new ways of fostering trans-disciplinary collaboration and learning. The solutions will encompass different tools that contribute to societal resilience throughout the whole disaster life cycle. Particular attention will be given to solutions, such as guidelines, models, methods, practices, processes, strategies, and recommendations, that support the engagement and collaboration of the different actors in societal resilience, including the means to transfer research results to citizens, increase risk awareness, and use communication channels such as social media.

Led by SINTEF, ENGAGE brings together 14 partners from 8 countries. The ENGAGE team combines knowledge and exploits the results of research on resilience, social capital, and risk communication. The consortium will work together with a Knowledge and Innovation Community of Practitioners (KI-CoP) initially composed of 37 organisations, magnifying the ability to create knowledge and exploit novel solutions. The initial Knowledge and Innovation Community of Practitioners includes:

• 14 agencies & authorities
• 10 first responders
• 7 Non-Governmental Organizations
• 2 primary and secondary schools and 1 Japanese academia
• 3 citizen representatives

Our role

Together with the KI-KoP, Deep Blue will validate the identified solutions. We will apply them to real contexts, and consider multiple variables, such as their scalability or cultural adaptability. To strengthen this process, Deep Blue will promote the growth of the Community of Practice throughout the entire project. In addition, we will establish the ENGAGE Knowledge Platform: a unique space of collaboration, information sharing and co-creation of contents. The platform aims to shorten the distances between different actors and to provide a practical tool for societies and communities in matters of risk management.

Results and lessons learned from ENGAGE will contribute to fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 to establish a broader, people-centred approach to disaster risks.

Vera Ferraiuolo

Senior Dissemination Consultant