2nd Meeting and the 2nd annual conference of the ANDROID Disaster Resilience Network, Cyprus

Friday 25 October 2013

These are the proceedings of the 2nd Annual Conference on the ANDROID Disaster Resilience Network, held from 23rd to the 25th October 2013, in Limassol, Cyprus.

The ANDROID Disaster Resilience Network holds an annual conference of network members, lecturers and researchers in universities and other higher education institutions with an interest in our themes.

ANDROID (Academic Network for Disaster Resilience to Optimise EducatIonal Development) aims to promote co-operation and innovation among European HE to increase society’s resilience to disasters of human and natural origin.

The network’s teaching and research is concerned with what resilience is, what it means to society, and how societies might achieve greater resilience in the face of increasing threats from natural and human induced hazards.

ANDROID is an Erasmus academic network. The Erasmus programme was launched in June 1987 and in 2007 celebrated its 20th anniversary. It is one of the best-known Community actions and addresses the teaching and learning needs of all those in formal higher education and vocational education and training at tertiary level. It supports the achievement of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and reinforces the contribution of higher education and advanced vocational education to the process of innovation.

A disaster is considered to be a situation or event, which overwhelms local capacity, necessitating a request to national or international level for external assistance; an unforeseen and often sudden event that causes great damage, destruction and human suffering.

There are wide-ranging origins and causes to the many disasters that have affected communities across Europe and globally with ever-greater frequency.

The term disaster is frequently associated with geo- and hydro-meteorological hazards, such as hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding. The degree to which such disasters can be considered ‘natural’ has long been challenged with scientists arguing that the cause of the observed increase in disasters as, ‘the growing vulnerability of the population to extreme physical events’, not as changes in nature. 

More recently, the links between disasters and climate change have increasingly been recognised. There are growing concerns over the threats posed by climatological hazards such as extreme temperatures, drought and wild fires, and the multi-faceted threats associated with sea level change.

The scale of human contribution to climate change may still be open to debate, but there is widespread concern over its ability to increase the number and scale of hazards, and the potential for resultant impact on communities world-wide. Alongside disasters of so called ‘natural origin’, many other disasters to affect populations in recent times are unquestionably of human origin. Conflict sometimes results in wars and terrorist acts that match or exceed the losses from any ‘natural’ disaster.

Despite ‘resilience’ having been widely adopted in research, policy and practice to describe the way in which they would like to reduce our society’s susceptibility to the threat posed by such hazards, there is little consensus regarding what resilience is, what it means to society, and perhaps most importantly, how societies might achieve greater resilience in the face of increasing threats from natural and human induced hazards. 

If the concept of resilience is to be a useful framework of analysis for how society can cope with the threat of natural hazards, it is necessary to understand attributes that enable physical, socio-cultural, politico-economic and natural systems to adapt, by resistance or changing in order to reach and maintain an acceptable level of functioning.

ANDROID will address this challenge in a series of linked activities and work programmes that will promote discourse and produce data from cross-national studies in Europe. The ANDROID consortium of applied, human, social and natural scientists, supported by international organisations and a stakeholder board, will work together to map the field in disaster resilience education, pool their results and findings, develop interdisciplinary explanations, build capacity, move forward innovative education agendas, discuss methods, and inform policy development.

The annual conference provides a varied programme of themed paper presentations, workshops, round tables, working group meetings, and plenary addresses. The programme and accompanying proceedings each year provide an annual report on the state of innovation in disaster resilience education. This report is based on the research and innovation activities undertaken by the network membership.

All network members were invited to contribute abstracts of their current and recent activities pertaining to disaster resilience education and research. These proceedings contain abstracts of keynote addresses and research presentations delivered at the conference, as well as a compendium of research and innovation projects carried out and submitted by ANDROID partners. The compendium of research projects will be updated in 2014, culminating in the publication of the final report in 2014, which will offer a comprehensive view of the current state of innovation is disaster resilience education and research.

The conference also incorporates the ANDROID Residential Doctoral School, held in Limassol, Cyprus, on the 23rd and 24 October 2013. The Residential Doctoral School actively engaged emerging researchers from partner institutions to present and discuss their doctoral research projects. It involved each candidate submitting a research paper, which was double-blind peer reviewed, and making a short presentation to a panel of experts.

The 2nd Annual Conference of the ANDROID Disaster Resilience Network, incorporating the ANDROID Residential Doctoral School, was organised by: Frederick University, Cyprus; Centre for Disaster Resilience, University of Salford, UK; Riga Technical University, Latvia; and Northumbria University, UK.