Building resilience to pandemic risk

Although countries across the world continue to face serious challenges in relation to the ongoing pandemic, attention has also been directed at questions of how to recover from the pandemic in a manner that makes societies and economies more resilient to future risks. ‘Building back better’, a central concept in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction that has made its way to the mainstream in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, entails a recovery agenda that aims to reduce the risk of future disasters by addressing elements of exposure and vulnerability that help to transform the hazard (in this case the virus), into a disaster (the Covid-19 pandemic).

Acknowledging that recovery cannot entail a return back to the ‘old normal’, this project adopts the concept of ‘building forward better’. This agenda necessarily integrates priorities reflected across the post-2015 international frameworks, and entails a multi-level, multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral response. In this connection, it follows that analysis of legal and policy responses at national level need to be complemented by insights from local actors, whose perspectives can shed light on the role of national law and policy in addressing local predicaments in a multi-level pandemic risk reduction, preparedness and response framework. A focus on local dynamics can also contribute promising practices that may be adapted to other local contexts, whether within the same country or elsewhere.

The purpose of this project is to contribute to the development of concepts, practices, and networks that help to address the immediate impacts of the current pandemic, with a clear view towards building forward better in a holistic manner that integrates the aspirations of rights-based sustainable development, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction, as reflected in the post-2015 international frameworks.

The project entails ground level empirical research focusing on local people’s experiences of municipal-level responses to Covid-19 in a multi-level governance framework, combined with the development of knowledge products designed to share insights and promote reflection and discussion within and between stakeholder groups. The research seeks to engage predominantly with individual residents and their representatives in civil society, together with local government actors, and will be designed in a manner that integrates constructively with existing network-based initiatives. Insights are expected to be relevant to actors at local, national, regional, and international levels.

This new initiative focusing on ground-level impacts of pandemic risk reduction, preparedness and response builds on insights derived in the pilot project conducted in 2020, and is intended as an early step in the development of a larger programme promoting building forward better with a human rights-based approach that integrates key elements from the post-2015 international frameworks, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the New Urban Agenda.

Evaluation of national legal and policy responses to COVID-19 Concept Note Pandemic Preparedness and Response      Background brief on building reslience to pandemic risk

Featured image: poco_bw / iStock

Our partners in this project are: 


                  DanChurchAid                                   OHCHR                     Development Governance Institute

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