Pointillism – a postimpressionist painting technique in which thousands of small dots of colour are applied to a canvas to create an image – is a perfect analogy for where we stand today with regard to disaster prevention, awareness, preparedness and response issues.
Academics, national and local governments, businesses, institutions, NGOs, emergency responders, volunteers and individuals, even publications and websites – millions of tiny dots on a world canvas, all dedicated to helping to protect our societies and the environment. But what sort of image are they creating?
Nobody really knows at this stage: we are condemned to watch our future history unfold without the luxury of hindsight. We do, however, know that threats are on the rise: geopolitics and economics, climate and disease, all are combining, interacting – and sometimes mutating – to create novel, destructive and usually heart-rending human tragedies, many of them on a previously unimagined scale.
The theme for this issue is community resilience, which demands a joined-up, inclusive approach. The most successful projects featured in CRJ involve all sectors of a community in a holistic, joined-up way. But understanding society, helping to encourage collective responsibility and reducing vulnerabilities are just the beginning.
It is also essential to tackle – on a truly global scale and in an equally joined-up manner – the root causes of the problems that are leading to the world’s current instability, refugee crises, worsening climate-related events and terrorism.
Evidently, this is a gargantuan challenge, but it is not just frontline emergency responders who will be at the brunt end of dealing with the consequences if we are unsuccessful.
So perhaps it is time to stand back, take stock of how the picture is taking shape, then embrace the notion of replication without duplication, sharing without national, institutional or organisational protectionism, of dissecting the old way of doing things and coming up with coherent and truly joined-up strategies to ensure genuine resilience, for everyone.
Then maybe, just maybe, future generations will be able to make sense of – and appreciate – the resilience picture that they have been bequeathed.