United Nations University

The United Nations University (UNU) is the academic arm of the United Nations (UN). It bridges the academic world and the UN system. Its goal is to develop sustainable solutions for current and future problems of humankind in all aspects of life. Through a problem-oriented and interdisciplinary approach it aims at applied research and education on a global scale. UNU was founded in 1973 and is an autonomous organ of the UN General Assembly. The University comprises headquarters Tokyo, Japan, and more than a dozen Institutes and Programmes worldwide.


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The European Commission-funded  emBRACE project aims to build resilience to disasters amongst communities in Europe. Using interdisciplinary, socially inclusive and collaborative methods, it will develop a conceptual and methodological approach to clarify how the resilience capacity of a society confronted with natural hazards and disasters can be characterized, defined and measured.

The overall project is not just an academic exercise to produce conceptual models, but aims to involve practitioners and local stakeholders within an iterative process of finding, testing and refining in a public forum that the framework and assessment will be complete.

More information at http://embrace-eu.org/.

Time Span

The project started in October 2011 and is fixed for a time frame of 48 months.

Key Goals

  • Systematic gap analysis within resilience research

  • Development of a resilience framework

  • Identification of key characteristics and key indicators of resilience across a range of disciplines and dimensions

  • Assessment, monitoring and evaluation of resilience on different scales (countries, communities and individuals to different hazards of hydro-meteorological and geophysical nature)

  • Conduction of tests on the ground and experiments to evaluate the applicability of the concept and methods developed in close cooperation with stakeholders (e.g., Red Cross and local stakeholders) on different scales.

Role of UNU-EHS

At UNU-EHS, the VARMAP section headed by PD Dr.-Ing. Joern Birkmann is coordinating the efforts, however besides the VARMAP section also the EVES section with its expertise in environmental vulnerability and resilience is heavily involved. UNU-EHS is functioning as the work package leader for WP1 and WP2 in the first part of the project. Here, the various existing definitions of resilience which constitute its essentially multifaceted character will be systematized and further conclusions for the theoretical conceptual basis of resilience will be formulated. This also includes a gap analysis which will show new research challenges as well as missing links between different communities using the concept of resilience. In WP 2, UNU-EHS particularly works closely together with the King’s Colleague in London and the UFZ in Leipzig regarding the development of a resilience framework. WP1 and WP2 should provide a sound information and conceptual basis to further assess resilience. In this regard, the processes and pressures determining resilience for a unit of assessment change with spatial, temporal and social scale are researched.


  1. teaser image

    emBRACE at Heatwave Conference of UK Department of Health

    26 March 2014, London, United Kingdom - How to improve response and preparedness to heatwaves and extreme temperatures in the UK? This question was discussed by practitioners and experts at the Annual Heatwave Seminar in London, organized by Public Health England and the UK Department of Health. |Read more

Partner Organizations

Please click here to get to a complete list of the project partners.

Funded by



  • PD Dr.-Ing. Jörn Birkmann

  • Tel.: + 49-228-815-0208

  • e-mail: