Culture and disaster risk management - stakeholder attitudes during Stakeholder Assembly in Rome, Italy

Sandra Appleby-Arnold, Noellie Brockdorff

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This report provides a summary of the topics discussed and the results of the CARISMAND Second Stakeholder Assembly conducted in Rome, Italy on 27-28 February 2017. In order to promote cross-sectional knowledge transfer, as in the CARISMAND First Stakeholder Assembly held in Romania in the previous year, the audience consisted of a wide range of practitioners that are typically involved in disaster management, e.g., civil protection, the emergency services, paramedics, nurses, environmental protection, Red Cross, fire-fighters, military, the police, and other non-governmental organisations. Further, these practitioners were from several regions in Italy, e.g., Rome and Lazio, Toscana, Emilia-Romagna, and Valle D’Aosta. The participants, who varied between 40 and 60, were recruited via invitations sent to various Italian organisations and institutions (at the national, regional and local levels), and via direct contacts of the Protezione Civile Comune di Firenze who are one of the Italian partners in the CARISMAND Consortium. The event consisted of a mix of presentations, working groups, and panel discussions for these participating practitioners, in order to combine dissemination with information gathering (for the detailed schedule/programme please see Appendix 1). After an initial general assembly where the CARISMAND project and its main goals were presented, the participants of the Stakeholder Assembly were split into small groups in separate breakout rooms, where over the course of the two days they discussed the following topics: 1) Working Group 1. “Culture & Risk”: Practical Experience of Cultural Aspects Disaster Communication between Practitioners and Citizens; 2) Working Group 2. “Media Culture & Disasters”: The Use of Social Media and Mobile Phone Applications in Disasters; 3) Working Groups 3. “Social Cohesion & Social Corrosion”: Cultures, Communities, and Trust. After each working group session, panel discussions allowed the participants to present the results of their working group to the rest of the audience. After each panel discussion, keynote speakers gave presentations related to the respective working group’s topic. This time schedule was designed to ensure that participants are provided with detailed information about recent developments in disaster management, e.g. related to the use of mobile phone apps and social media, but without influencing their attitudes and perceptions expressed in the working groups. The main focus of the working groups was the relationships between culture and risk/disaster communication, the role of social media and smartphone apps, and trust between citizens and disaster managers and/or authorities. These topics, and the questions discussed within each working group, were chosen:  following the findings of the CARISMAND First Stakeholder Assembly held in Bucharest, in particular regarding the disconnection between citizens’ risk perception and cultural factors in disasters; 1) the results of the CARISMAND First and Second Citizen Summits held in Bucharest and Malta respectively, specifically taking up the participants’ suggestions regarding vulnerable groups and groups that are seen to be potentially helpful in disaster situations; 2) the results of Work Package 3 ‘Cultural Factors and Technologies’, in particular regarding the increasing interest in mobile phone apps compared to social media usage; 3) the literature review provided in Work Package 4 ‘Risk Perception and Risk Cultures’, particularly regarding the ambivalent of role of trust in disaster preparedness, response and recovery; 4) the preliminary findings of Work Package 7 ‘Citizens Empowerment’, in respect to community cohesion and specific opportunities for citizen empowerment; and 5) topics highlighted in Work Package 8 ‘Risk Communication and the Role of the Media in Risk Communication’ regarding disaster communication practices (particularly in connection with social media/apps usage as identified in Work Package 3 ‘Cultural Factors and Technologies’). These topics were also chosen in order to provide a sound basis for the next round of CARISMAND events (Third and Fourth CARISMAND Citizen Summits held, later, in Rome and Frankfurt in June 2017), i.e. exploring issues of risk perception and culture in the context of disasters at the very point, where practitioners and citizens interact. The location of the Second Stakeholder Assembly was selected to make use of the extensive local professional network of the Protezione Civile, but also due to Italy being a location where various “types” of hazards are prevalent, and disasters were occurred in the very recent past. All documents related to the Working Groups, i.e. discussion guidelines and consent forms, were translated into Italian. Accordingly, all presentations as well as the group discussions were held in Italian, aiming to avoid any language/education-related access restrictions, and allowing participating practitioners to respond intuitively and discuss freely in their native language. For this purpose, researchers from the Laboratory of Sciences Citizenship in Rome, one of the CARISMAND Consortium members, were used as Working Group moderators, alongside simultaneous interpreters and professional local moderators contracted via a local market research agency (RFR International), who also provided the transcripts and translations into English for all Working Group discussions. It is important to note that the discussions within these working groups reflect the participants’ perceptions and may or may not reflect the realities of how communication actually occurs in disaster situations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • emergency management
  • disaster relief
  • civil defense readiness
  • incident command systems


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