UNU expert and young researcher Thomas Abeling was awarded the “Young Researcher Award” for best presentation at the 14th Forum of the DKKV (Deutsches Komitee Katastrophenvorsorge) earlier this month. Abeling was awarded the honour for his presentation “Can we learn to be resilient? The role of social learning in heatwave risk management in London, UK.”
Abeling’s presentation investigated the role of social learning for resilience to heat stress in London. Focusing on the July 2013 UK heatwave, the presentation traced the dynamics of social learning in heatwave risk management delivered by London local authorities, and health- and social care organizations at the local scale. He found that learning in heatwave planning organizations often unfolded as incremental change in reaction to focal events, and suggested that this stabilized, rather than challenged existing risk management strategies Abeling challenged the idea that learning equals change, and called for an acknowledgement of the complexities of learning and its role for resilience to natural hazards.
The jury highlighted that the presentation offered innovative arguments and provided an important contribution to understanding the interplay between resilience and learning in the context of disaster risk reduction. It included 500€ prize money.