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Panel 33. Bridging hierarchies for mutual learning: Advancing international cooperation in urban disaster risk and resilience research


  • Verena Flörchinger, Research Associate, Disaster Research Unit, Freie Universität Berlin.
  • Vicente Sandoval, Editor-in-Chief, Revista de Estudios Latinoamericanos sobre Reducción del Riesgo de Desastres REDER. Corresponding applicant:


In the dynamic landscape of global research collaboration, this session aims to critically examine the gaps, challenges, and opportunities inherent in international research partnerships between the Global North and the Global South in the context of urban disaster risk and resilience research, with a particular focus on their linkages to sustainable development and climate change. We contend that international research projects, particularly those unilaterally (one-side) funded, often exhibit hierarchical structures that hinder the realization of their full potential. This imbalance in power dynamics not only affects project development but also diminishes the potential for mutual learning while it tends to perpetuate a postcolonial status-quo in research and development.

Key-points of the proposal and invitation to contributions:

  • Hierarchical dynamics: The session will delve into the prevalent hierarchical structures within international research projects. We will invite panelist to explore how such structures can undermine the equitable exchange of ideas and knowledge, particularly in contexts where Global North entities hold funding
  • Comparative analyses and case studies: The session welcomes contributions that engage in comparative analyses in the context of urban disaster risk and resilience research, including linkages to sustainability and climate change. These contributions should shed light on the similarities, differences, and transferable lessons that can be gleaned from diverse global
  • Policy implications: The session will consider the broader policy implications for urban disaster risk and resilience in the context of unequal research collaborations and provide recommendations for policymakers, funding agencies, and institutions to foster more equitable research
  • Impact on knowledge production: The session will address how these hierarchical dynamics impact the quality and relevance of research outputs. It will consider how limited input from Global South partners can result in incomplete understandings of local realities and skewed narratives in the fields of urban disaster risk and resilience
  • Mutual learning and capacity building: We will explore opportunities for mutual learning within research collaborations. By identifying strategies that promote equitable knowledge exchange, we aim to enhance the capacity of both Global North and Global South partners to contribute meaningfully to research

In an era where the urgency of climate change adaptation, sustainable development, disaster risk reduction, and resilience demands collective local but also global solutions, this session aims to ignite a dialogue on critically review the norms of international research cooperation. By acknowledging the issues at hand, we aspire to chart a path towards more equitable, mutually beneficial partnerships that transcend the traditional North-South divide and lead to a more inclusive and impactful research landscape. We will invite contributors in advancing the discourse on bridging hierarchies and promoting genuine collaboration in the quest for sustainable urban and regional development, disaster risk reduction, and resilience.

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