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A stakeholder approach to building community resilience: awareness to implementation

Judy Burnside-Lawry (School of Media and Communication, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Luis Carvalho (Civil Protection Services, Municipality of Amadora, Amadora, Portugal)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




The paper aims to examine one local government’s efforts to increase local-level engagement in building community disaster resilience. Presenting the empirical evidence of stakeholder engagement activities that increase risk awareness and encourage collective action, the study addresses a key priority for the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (Hyogo Framework for Action 2) to identify methods for increasing local-level implementation of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.


A qualitative, case study approach is used to explore the case in depth. A review of literature from the multidisciplinary areas of communication, social and political theory frames data collection and analysis. Data collection includes observation, document analysis and interviews with policymakers, practitioners and local stakeholders to document achievements and lessons learnt from all perspectives.


Preliminary results indicate that strong political leadership and inter-departmental coordination have contributed to engaging local-level participation in disaster risk reduction in the Municipality of Amadora, Portugal. Findings indicate that the implementation of a wide spectrum of public engagement initiatives has increased awareness of hazard risks amongst specific demographic groups and improved community and government capacity to identify and implement risk reduction strategies.

Research limitations/implications

As this study is a work-in-progress and data analysis is in the early stages, interview transcripts included in this paper are limited to members of the team and their Director, Amadora Town Councillor for Civil Protection Services.

Practical implications

It is commonly acknowledged that to date, achievements of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2010-2015 largely remain at the national level and have not reached local levels in a substantial manner. Addressing the need for more industry-led research to explore examples of successful stakeholder participation, the paper’s findings can be used by emergency management practitioners who recognise the need to merge climate change adaptation, risk reduction and local-level engagement to encourage public participation, inclusiveness and proactive planning.


Co-authored by an Australian academic and a member of Amadora’s Campaign Team, the paper is a combination of empirical data from one city’s practical experience to develop and implement communication strategies in developing and implementing strategies to build community disaster resilience, analysed within a framework of communication, social and political theory.



The authors wish to thank UNISDR’s Mariana Osihn for enabling this research to be conducted. This research was conducted during Dr Judith Burnside-Lawry’s six month-funded research fellowship as Australia’s post-doctoral fellow at European University Institute (EUI), Florence, Italy, from January toJuly 2013 in the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies.


Burnside-Lawry, J. and Carvalho, L. (2016), "A stakeholder approach to building community resilience: awareness to implementation", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 4-25.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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