UNU Master’s students take part in world’s biggest disaster response exercise

  • 2016•09•23     Norway

    The UNU-EHS Master’s Programme is designed to offer students an in-depth introduction to problem-oriented research methods, theories and concepts relating to environmental risks and human security. But it also goes beyond this, combining theory with practice, and has a strong emphasis on exposing students to the real life challenges that international actors and UN organizations face. And few challenges are as daunting as responding to a natural disaster in a developing country – the main scenario for TRIPLEX 2016.

    Following the 2013 initiative, TRIPLEX 2016 is a five-day exercise, held in Lista, in the south of Norway, from 24- 30 September. It is the world’s largest civilian humanitarian response exercise. Over the first two days, participants will come together for a series of specialist workshops before putting theory into practice through a three-day field exercise aimed at practicing the coordinated response to a sudden-onset emergency scenario. Alongside several major UN agencies, namely UN OCHA, WFP, WHO, UNICEF and the UNHCR, participants will include international NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the EU, representatives from the military and national governments, as well as members of the International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP).

    Significantly, TRIPLEX 2016 will see students from UNU-EHS Master’s Programme join these international actors in role-playing the real-time response to a natural disaster in a developing country. Participation in the event requires all parties to be “actively involved”, meaning that students will be able to gain valuable, first-hand experience of every aspect of the humanitarian and civil protection response to a disaster, from assessing the initial situation through to coordinating the necessary relief response, carrying out specific tasks and mandates, and reporting on the latest developments through various media channels.

    Participating in this large scale EU/UN simulation exercise is the end result of a long and thorough planning process. It’s undoubtedly worth every minute we have invested in it”, explains Dr. Joerg Szarzynski, Education Programme Director at UNU-EHS and initiator of this activity. “The Triplex exercise will provide a unique learning opportunity for the students of our Joint Master Programme. They will meet numerous experienced practitioners from the international humanitarian community while training and testing emergency response and coordination procedures within a complex disaster scenario.”

    All the students will be travelling to Norway as part of the official convoy of the German Relief Service (THW). Johanna Maass is one of UNU-EHS Master’s students taking part in TRIPLEX 2016. She says: “I’m looking forward to joining the TRIPLEX exercise because it will provide us with a unique opportunity to gain real life and practical insights into how an emergency response is actually conducted Gaining insights into how different humanitarian organizations operate on the ground, as well as meeting interesting people and making friends with like-minded students is what I hope to get out of this exercise. I think that we will gain a lot both personally and academically and that this will be a valuable contribution to our Master’s course.”