NORDRESS stands for Nordic Centre of Excellence on Resilience and Societal Security.
Resilience is an overarching concept that permeates the current understanding of societal security. Resilience can be viewed both as a state and a process. Several studies have set out to define the term and identify relevant resilience indicators.
We find that the widely used definition by UNISDR (2007) suits well the purpose of NORDRESS. It refers to resilience as: the ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate to and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structure and function.
NORDRESS sets out to work with the concept of “Nordic Societal Resilience”, capitalizing on the strengths of these societies, while looking for ways to develop their resilience further. Ways of increasing societal resilience include the transfer of knowledge and expertise and the search for new solutions to an increasing variety of threats that these societies face. In terms of disasters caused by natural hazards, resilience must permeate the entire cycle of emergency management: prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
Today, while still disputed, the term resilience denotes a dynamic approach to societal security. While robustness may be seen as the ability of a system to maintain
its functions under the influence of shocks without changing its fundamental modes of operation, resilience implies a view of societal security as a property that cannot merely be built into technological or socio-economic systems but derives from the intricate interplay between individuals, communities, institutions and infrastructures.
For the purpose of analyzing, we view societal resilience as being composed of four dimensions. Individuals contribute to society’s robustness with strong physical and mental health and personal preparedness, while active communities unfold the potential of people working together informally to cope with the impacts of natural hazards on everyday life. Society is bound together by infrastructures that strengthen the overall societal resilience through communication, transportation, critical lifelines, energy, and logistics. In return, these infrastructures support the workings of institutions that create formal frameworks for legal and political responsibility.
These four dimensions are all important for societal resilience. In this context they merely represent analytical tools and it is equally relevant to study the interplay among individuals, communities, infrastructures and institutions. These are the tasks NORDRESS will take on, with the aim of issuing science based recommendations to relevant authorities on how to improve societal resilience in the Nordic countries.