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Since the late 1980s, framework programmes (FPs) have addressed natural hazards and disaster risk reduction issues, particularly in the fields of climate- and geological-related hazards (DG Research 2005; DG Research 2006; Abat 2007).

Under the FP6 (2003-06), greater emphasis was given to a holistic approach, encompassing hazard-vulnerability-risk assessment and mitigation of social and economic effects of natural disasters (DG Research 2009).

FP7 encourages multi-hazard research and the integration of the risk-reduction chain. A workshop convened by the EC (DG Research) in collaboration with UNISDR, in October 2009, highlighted the breadth and depth of the European research efforts in NH/DRR. Nevertheless, participants acknowledged that the social sciences remained under-represented in research. They also noted that greater synergies between the funded projects needed to be forged.

In 2008, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agreed to prepare a Special Report on Managing the Risk of Extreme Events to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. The report, scheduled for release in late 2011, will be the first systematic assessment of the availability and compatibility of guidelines, frameworks and tools for capacity building to enhance social resilience and improve preparedness to respond to climate impacts (Barros & van Ypersele 2009). It will focus on weather extremes and disasters exacerbated by climate change, including floods, droughts, windstorms and heat waves. It will also examine coastal development, urban sprawl and glacial lake outbursts.

Building on previous successful programmes, the International Council for Science (ICSU) recently launched an Initiative on Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) that is being co-sponsored by other international organisations. IRDR is a decade-long, all-hazards research programme that will seek to integrate natural, social, medical and engineering sciences. The initiative will focus on the scientific characterization of natural and human-induced environmental hazards, vulnerability and risk; understanding decision making in complex and changing risk contexts; and opportunities for reducing risks and losses through knowledge-based actions.

A major gap in NH/DRR is that neither social capital nor social network theories have played a major role in the research. Some studies have examined recovery phases and the impact that disasters have on social cohesion and community relations (Nakagawa and Shaw 2004). Yet only a few studies have explored the relevance of social networks and social capital in earlier stages or phases of a disaster (Steinführer and Kuhlicke 2007). One study, emphasizing the importance of social capital, has noted that approaches seeking to "to promote opportunities...facilitate empowerment, and... enhance security" may be worthwhile examining (Bohle, 2005, p 65).

Disclaimer. The results contained in this website were produced within the CATALYST project "Capacity Development for Hazard Risk Reduction and Adaptation" funded under the FP7 by the European Commission. This website is the sole responsiblity of the CATALYST Project and does not represent the opinion of the European Community nor is the European community responsible for any use that might be made of the data appearing herein.
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