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Enhanced citizen preparedness in the event of a disaster or crisis-related emergency


Improving societal resilience to disasters or crises relies on various features related to preparedness of citizens, communities, education systems, public administrations, business companies and practitioners. These concern, in particular, ways to react and informed decisions to take in case of an event. Individual, public and multi-level actions are needed in disaster risk management and they have huge implications on potentially reducing losses and increasing the operational capacity of responders, along with significant impacts on the emergency planning and management phases and its relation to continuous operations and existing safety management. In particular, the level of awareness of EU citizens of the risks in their region is an indicator for measuring progress in increasing public awareness and preparedness for disasters and in the implementation of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism legislation.

Besides the required risk understanding dealt with in topic CL3-2021-DRS-01-01, research is needed in several domains. With regard to public administrations, it is relevant to conceptualise how to increase risk awareness by building processes capable of fostering a long-lasting coalition with citizens around the objective of reducing vulnerability. This implies the definition of action protocols and models of responsibility that mobilise the intervention of individual employees of public administrations. With regard to business companies and practitioners, it is relevant to integrate their emergency activities in the local context. With regard to citizens and communities, it is necessary to design preparedness actions enabling an empowerment of citizens (including particularly vulnerable groups), their communities and NGOs through bottom-up participatory and learning processes. This includes school/university curricula and professional training and trust building among local actors, integrating relevant traditional knowledge, incorporating a gender perspective where relevant, best practices, guidelines, and possible changes of regulations, to allow participatory actions. Difficulties in communication to the public in preparedness (and response) phases requires the consideration of legal aspects, along with investigations into innovative practices, forms and tools that will enable the more effective sharing of information, taking into account possible risks of disinformation and fake news. These will support citizens in acting efficiently by themselves, through enhanced collaboration and communication and improving information exchanges between local authorities (including first and second responders), vulnerable populations (e.g. socio-economic groups, ethnic groups, persons with disabilities or illnesses, children, elderly, hospital patients), and the private sector.

Moreover, recent crises have shown that there is a large sense of solidarity among the population during a disaster or crisis situation. Many citizens that were not involved in disaster relief organisations before the crisis want to offer support to their fellow citizens and the broader community in times of crises. These initiatives of “spontaneous volunteers” are however most efficient if they are informed and trained and if their valuable contributions are coordinated with the authorities and first and second responders on the ground. Preparedness plans, tests and continued adaption on how best to manage spontaneous volunteers and integrate those into the response are needed.

This topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities. In order to achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is encouraged.