In the wake of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (General Assembly of the United Nations, 2015), REDI gathers leading and first-stage researchers, innovators from the public and private sectors, community representatives and citizens, to collect ideas, prioritise needs, advance knowledge, propose breakthrough solutions and promote their adoption for reducing disaster risk and mitigating the consequences of disasters.
REDI is a research consortium with an open partnership under the auspices of the Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research. The founding partners are the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), the Gran Sasso Science Institute (GSSI) and the University of Camerino (UNICAM).
The action that preceded and promoted the establishment of REDI was the drafting of an instant book (Building Back Better. Ideas and pathways for the creation of resilient communities), aimed at gathering the views of a few researchers who started a joint discussion immediately after the 2016 disaster.
Natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.) cause immense losses in terms of human lives, properties and livelihoods. Dealing with disasters is not just a matter of destroyed buildings. It is about destroyed social networks and cultural ties of the affected communities. The consequences of natural disasters on societies are:
- the uprooting of communities, which results from the abandonment of homelands and the disruption of place-based social practices;
- the breakdown of social and cultural ties that results in lower individual, collective and institutional trust;
- the impact on the labour market, with job losses and difficult business relocation, especially when there is a local peculiarity (e.g. networks of special competences, site-specific breeding farms, tourist services, etc.);
- the destruction and damage of cultural heritage and the loss of collective memory and tradition.
Research, action and innovation on disaster risk reduction (DRR) require a significant, wide and deep advancement of knowledge, brought about across many different fields of expertise (e.g. urban and landscape planning, social sciences and humanities, earth sciences, health sciences, environmental sciences, engineering, geography, etc.).
The Sendai Framework concept of ‘Building Back Better’ (BBB) is a process for reducing the effects of natural disasters on private and public buildings and goods, as well as on the cultural and historical heritage, a process in which not only technical solutions are crucial. BBB asks for a complementary, multidimensional array of competencies, in which multiple stakeholders take action according to their goals, and in their economic, social and institutional assets and capacities.
The involvement of the affected communities is of paramount importance: it constitutes a prerequisite for the adoption of any innovative ‘solution’. In accordance with the citizen-science paradigm, the approach pursued by REDI aims to promote the interaction and the matching of formally and numerically descriptive analyses and interpretations (geological, physical, historical, socio-economical, mathematical, environmental, etc.), with the impressions, feelings and aspirations of communities.
Coherence, convergence and synergies between efficient and effective technical solutions on the one hand, and medium-to-long term strategic visions on the other, are pivotal to achieve substantial reduction of disaster risks and mitigate the consequences of disasters.
REDI is a research consortium for innovation and training. Its mission is to contribute to interdisciplinary research-actions to boost community disaster preparedness, response and recovery speed. The knowledge-for-action approach implies a strong commitment to make the virtuous circle between knowledge and innovation run continuously and smoothly, so that science advancement and technological progress positively feedback on each other to maximise their respective impacts, including at societal level.
REDI is established by an open partnership of Italian and European research institutes and universities performing cutting-edge research in the field, with the aim of setting up an international hub where innovative methodologies are developed for co-designing, in collaboration with citizens, communities and all relevant stakeholders, the implementation of solutions for disaster risk reduction, and the mitigation of the aftermaths.
The experience from the recent earthquakes in Italy has made it clear that a holistic approach to natural disasters, to the reduction of risk and the mitigation of their effects is necessary. Such an approach is not without challenges. Decisions have to result from sound politically, economically, socially, culturally, and environmentally sustainable foundations, and embedded in sound development policies.
REDI has the ambition to match the demand and supply of knowledge for action in the borderless domain of DRR, by harnessing the expertise of partner institutions for responding to this demand, and strengthening community-based disaster resilience.
Instrumental for achieving the goals of REDI is a research-intensive, impact-based doctoral programme. For each three-year programming cycle, two themes – on which three international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectorial doctoral programmes will focus – are identified, after a wide consultation with the concerned communities, by the team of leading scientists in co-operation with the Steering Committee. The key words to identify the two themes of the first three-year cycle are preparedness and prevention.
- provides complementary courses and short (3-6 months) study periods for master students;
- hosts visiting researchers and guests;
- in collaboration with other centres of excellence in Italy, in Europe and worldwide, provides research-action opportunities for junior and senior researchers;
- promotes dialogue with, and provides hands-on training to, the different categories of practitioners, with a special emphasis on individual professionals and SME.
Finally, in partnership with policy makers and community members, REDI fosters outreach activities aimed at involving the society since the beginning of the technological and social innovation process (and not just at the end of the pipeline). The goal of this engagement is to promote a seamless public acceptance and adoption of innovative solutions/applications for use by local and national governments and governmental agencies/departments, emergency services and community groups.