From vulnerability to resilience
the 7th time,
UNU-EHS in close collaboration with the University of Bonn successfully conducted the PhD Block Course "From Vulnerability to
Resilience in Disaster Risk Management".
The course provided an interactive platform for 19 international participants to present their expertise and to further
explore the interdisciplinary assessment of vulnerability.
It took place
from 16 until 27 April 2012 in Bonn, Germany.
Participants came from Russia, Guinea, Spain, Ghana, USA, Romania, Vietnam, Ireland,
Colombia, Bangladesh, Denmark, Sri Lanka and Germany; their
background was political and cultural change, environmental hydraulics,
geo-informatics, natural resources and environmental management, climate
and vulnerability, human and physical geography, economics, agriculture
as well as regional
The course was conducted
through four main components: (1) Plenary lectures by UNU-EHS and University
of Bonn experts; (2) Guided work sessions: participants analysed specific
examples/case studies in small groups and discussed them with the experts; and (3)
Guided outdoor group exercise on GIS.
Major modules of the course:
spatio-temporal dimensions of hazards;
frameworks of vulnerability and vulnerability assessment;
assessment and its role for disaster management;
between environmental migration and vulnerability;
and geospatial technologies in support of disaster risk management;
The new module on Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems
days and aimed at rapid assessment in the field by geo-referencing and
This module was
developed in close collaboration between the UNU-EHS section for Higher Education
Center for Remote
Sensing of Land Surfaces (ZFL)
and the Department of
Geography of the University of Bonn. The interactive part of the module was
based on a real case scenario and introduced the students to various approaches
in disaster risk management and emergency response.
recording of all foot
paths with the GPS avoiding restricted areas;
determination of the
exact GPS coordinates of the contamination spots (barrels);
documentation by means
of geo-referenced photography of the respective places;
assessment of condition
of critical infrastructure (roadway width, traffic ability, etc.).
The Learning Café
within the PhD Block course brought together course participants and
three experts from the University of the Free State, South Africa, for an
innovative exchange. This led young scientists to action in the form of
interactive group work as well as invention to provide solid steps for resolving
to provide a strategic framework for risk assessment in
(with Dr. Andries Jordaan, Director of the
Disaster Risk Management Training and Education Center for Africa, DiMTEC
the environmental vulnerability of a non-perennial river catchment; taking into consideration that community living in the area is depending on water availability (with
Professor Maitland Seaman, Director of the Water Research Cluster and
Centre for Environmental Management);
how to prevent a natural disaster
through the development of a strategy addressing this challenge (with Dr.
Vermeulen, Acting Director, Institute for Groundwater Studies).
The Interactive Market Place
provided a platform to present and discuss ongoing research of
participants. It stimulated exchange and critical discussion on topics and
opinions relevant to the main themes of the course and aims of course
participants. Young academics shared effective approaches, public available
research results and scientific findings.
Furthermore, this session brought
early career researchers and provided them an opportunity for interdisciplinary exchange, for identifying and specifying possible gaps within their
research, as well as opportunities for future collaborations (joint scientific papers, etc.).
At the end of the Block Course, the participants presented their team achievements on vulnerability and
risk assessment. These findings will be peer-reviewed by the UNU-EHS scientific committee; selected authors will be invited to
write a paper.