“What ended the Dark Ages?” asks one of Japan’s most prominent systems scientists as we settle in a yakitori restaurant off a busy street in central Tokyo. Around the table, researchers and practitioners in disaster risk reduction, urban planning, sustainability sciences, and humanitarian aid have come together for a workshop on urban resilience. While historians moved away from using the term “Dark Ages” due to its inaccuracy, we conclude that it was the plague that paved the gruesome way for enlightenment as it radically disrupted society, eroded faith in the dominant institutions of the day, and gave more bargaining power to the surviving lower classes as they became more valuable to the landlords. Looking back at this conversation, what can historical experience teach us about the current global pandemic? What can we learn from the stark variation in the ability of different nations to manage the COVID-19 outbreak while simultaneously addressing the deep-rooted crises of inequality and climate change?
In this issue we focus on the future. Instead of looking at global models and quantitative extrapolations that have been extensively covered elsewhere (yet have failed to ignite needed action), we take a very personal, reflective look at our profession.
Read about the future of disaster and emergency management (DEM) from educators’ perspectives and about how to move past the tendencies of emergency management to treat symptoms rather than addressing the root causes of disasters. Read the views of a faculty member and an alumnus of a disaster management program regarding why “DEM education programming today reflects the state of the profession itself – evolving in some respects, while stuck in others.”
Read about a recently released guide on the central role of children and youth in disaster-risk reduction.
Read about the personal journey of a volunteer firefighter who became the recovery manager for one of the the most complex flood recoveries in British Columbia’s history.
Read about an innovation pathway to solving common disaster communications challenges, a unique story that highlights the importance of collaboration for shared situational awareness during disasters.
Read the inspiring interview with Tahawennon:tie David A. Diabo about enabling Indigenous emergency management.
For our feature, the Time Capsule, we connect with leading researchers, seasoned practitioners, and youth in Canada and around the world. We ask them what advice they would give future emergency managers, resilience practitioners, and disaster risk reduction scholars. They offer their advice for those working in the field in 2030 and 2050.
Every issue has a very special life of its own. This one was an intense collaboration with practitioners and researchers across Canada and around the world to collectively take the pulse of our profession. I am deeply grateful to all of the contributors who found time to share their reflections despite the long Emergency Operations Centre shifts for some and the ongoing racial and socio-economic equity work that never stops for others. I also extend my thanks to all of the contributors and peer reviewers and to our primarily volunteer HazNet team responsible for producing high-quality, relevant, and engaging content in every issue. I would especially like to thank Sarah Kamal, Ivan Chow, Carime Quezada, and Nicole Spence.
Change is the core theme in this issue. Change affects us as individuals, practitioners, researchers, and volunteers as we seek to excel in our service within our communities and our constantly evolving profession. While we may think big, we work and live within a constrained paradigm. Any discussion about the future of the profession must include both our aspirations about the professional practice but also the policy environment in which we operate.
Pandemics have brought large scale societal changes in the past. We hope that this issue makes clear that we, as a professional collective, have an active role to play in shaping this transformative change. When our great grandchildren read about the challenges that we faced in 2020, let them read that we, working and persevering together, ensured that this year was a turning point in the creation of a more equitable and resilient future.