Lecture: What is a societal crisis?

Mark Rhinard’s lecture at Stockholm University’s third Sustainability forum on the topic “From crisis to sustainability” on 22 April 2021.

Societies once treated ‘crises’ as unpredictable events requiring urgent responses under conditions of uncertainty. Crises would come and go: discrete events that represent interruptions to normal life. Today’s crises seem different. Issues like climate change, spreading pandemics and economic turbulence appear as permanent fixtures of our lives. We know about them. We live with them. And yet, with only some exceptions, the sense of urgency is not there. Governments do not act in time or do not act at all.

What explains how modern societies manage these ‘creeping’ crises? What kind of capacities are required to do so? What might prompt governments to act before it’s too late – either in terms of damage or their own lost legitimacy?

Listen to the lecture to hear more about these questions!

Announcing the crisis conference “After the Deluge” for this fall

We are still in the midst of the biggest crisis of our times. Yet, we have to move forward and learn the lessons of this and other crises, to assist politicians and policymakers in their efforts to build stronger, more resilient institutions.

To this effect, we are organizing a hybrid and truly interdisciplinary conference this fall where we are bringing together a group of academics and practitioners to collect the lessons from COVID-19 and other crises to prepare for future contingencies.

After the Deluge: How to Update our Institutions for Creeping Crises

This hybrid conference is jointly organized by Leiden and Utrecht University (The Netherlands).

27-29 October, 2021

Save the date – more information SOON

Contact Arjen Boin (boinatLeidenuniv.nl) for more information

Congratulations Mark Rhinard! Winner of JCMS Best Article Prize for 2019

Front page JCMSThe article ‘The Crisisification of Policy‐making in the European Union’ has won the Best Article in 2019 prize from the Journal of Common Market Studies a top-ranked journal in the field of International Relations. The article, written by Mark Rhinard, Professor of International Relations, is available Open Access at https://doi.org/10.1111/jcms.12838.

The jury said of the article: ‘This thought provoking article is timely, wide-ranging and compellingly argued. It is of clear significance to a very broad area of scholarship. It provides a careful and rigorous analysis. This is an important and impressive article. The jury loved this article, which “talks” to us intimately and resonate with the environment in which we are finding ourselves.’

New Report on Climate Change and Migration

The adverse effects of climate change can drastically change living conditions in many parts of the world. In a new report from Fores and European Liberal Forum (ELF), researcher Elin Jakobsson provides the reader with the key features of climate-driven migration as a phenomenon, and the policy processes which surround it, and proposes a set of recommendations specifically aimed at policy makers in the EU to address migration and displacement caused by climate change.

In sum, the report sends the following message to EU policy makers:

  1. More efforts needs to be put into streamlining definitions in order to create a unified terminology and a common language on climate-driven migration. There have been conceptual advancements in the past few years but confusion and discrepancies related to the scope and definitions regarding climate-driven migration still persist.
  2. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) gives more attention to climate-driven migration than has been given to previous agreements in the UN system. However, the suggested measures are not overly specified and it will be very much up to states to take these forward. With this in mind, the EU should make use of and safeguard the GCM as a forum for negotiations and discussions. In doing so, EU institutions and representatives should:
    • Strive to advance and promote issues related to climate-driven migration in the GCM context.
    • Encourage all member states to sign the compact.
  3. A large group of climate-driven migrants are not sufficiently covered by existing protection mechanisms. EU protection for climate-driven migrants should therefore be strengthened. Such strengthening measures could include:
    • To recognize natural disasters as a cause of forced displacement – and  thus a provision to attain protection status within the frames of the new EU Qualification Regulation.
    • To consider the possibilities of international protection even where there might be a theoretical option of internal flight in order to relieve pressure on local resources and ecosystems (especially as such pressure has proven to be a breeding ground for conflict).
    • To assist people and states in need with finding safe spots after sudden-onset disasters. This can be done through humanitarian assistance, temporary permits or humanitarian visas.
    • To assist international humanitarian organizations and exposed states with resettlement-like solutions for displaced people, where appropriate. This should also be considered for cases of slow-onset disasters (eg. droughts and sea-level rise), where relocation is needed as a way of supporting vulnerable communities who have fewer chances of maintaining their livelihoods as a result of environmental degradation.

Read more and download the report here.

PUPOL Conference April 2020

The Societal Security Research Group will host a series of panels at the fifth PUPOL (Public and Political Leadership) International Conference taking place in The Hague, the Netherlands, on the 16th and 17th of April 2020.

The Leiden Leadership Centre of Leiden University, including Professor Arjen Boin, will act as a host for this conference. Please contact pupol2020@leidenuniv.nl if you have any questions or remarks.

For more information, click here.

 

November 2019: Kick-Off Conference on ‘Creeping Crises’

Detecting Creeping Crises: Mapping challenges and designing strategies

Stockholm, 7-8 November 2019

The European Societal Security Research Group (Arjen Boin, Leiden University, Magnus Ekengren,
Swedish Defence University & Mark Rhinard, Swedish Institute of International Affairs) is pleased to invite you to a workshop on Thursday 7 (12.00-18.00) and Friday 8 November (09.00-13.00) at the Swedish Defence University on Detecting Creeping Crises: Mapping challenges and designing strategies. In recent years, both practitioners and scholars have become increasingly aware of the impact that so-called creeping crises exert on modern society. These are crises that simmer under the radar to suddenly and unexpectedly explode in the societal domain. They can be of transboundary nature (think of Europe’s immigration crisis or the financial crisis) or entirely “home grown” (forest fires or a measles epidemic). Policy analysts and politicians typically try to imagine which issue may become politically relevant in the short run. But there are many issues to choose from. Climate change is an obvious candidate. Some will point to rising inequality. Or the loosening of financial regulations, weakening control over a complex sector. But how about intensive agriculture, creating breeding grounds for new diseases? How about the clogging of European airspace, which may give rise to air disasters? How about the growth of mega-cities or the Internet of Things?

Many slow-moving developments may contain the seeds for future crises – but these are also the
developments that are tied to relentless modernization so typical of our time. In hindsight, these creeping crises often appear to be self-announcing, leaving a trail of signals of impending
arrival. Practitioners are confronted not just with a complex crisis to manage, but also with immediate accusations that they ignored signals of emerging crises. Creeping crises are often hard to detect, however. They emerge and take shape in hidden corners of the social and technical spaces that make up modern society. The complexity of modern society and its subsystems
makes these crises hard to detect, trace and contain. Practitioners need the knowledge to formulate evidence-based strategies in order to prepare our societies for these creeping crises.

But first we must conceptualize what creeping crises are and what challenges they present. This workshop brings together experienced policymakers with academic experts to investigate where creeping crises originate and how they propagate into full-blown crises. It explores if and how these crises can be detected and how they may be stopped. The answers to these questions can inform strategy formulation with regard to the processes and structures needed to address this threat type.

Against this background we invite participants of this workshop – practitioners and academics – to share their insights and experience to deepen our understanding of the creeping crisis. This will help to formulate a research agenda that will address open questions.

Attendance is limited, so please confirm your participation no later than 30 August by email to Anna Höggren at the Swedish Defence University (anna.hoggren@fhs.se).

The ‘Creeping Crises’ project website is now up and running. Click here to find it.

Congratulations Louise Bengtsson! Successful PhD Completed

European Societal Security Research Group member Louise Bengtsson has been awarded her doctorate, with a thesis titled ‘The Politics of Health Security in the European Union’. Louise’s work looks at the agents, practices, and materialities of securitization in European health cooperation.

From her abstract: The emergence of ‘health security’ as an area of European Union (EU) cooperation is one of the most notable trends in European integration of late. This doctoral dissertation traces and problematizes this development, using older and newer variants of securitisation theory to understand its practical and normative consequences. The study, consisting of five independent papers and an introduction, is based on extenstive field work at the European Commission and the EU Agency for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Collectively, the thesis explains how different security perspectives shaped empirical developments and permeated the process in different ways. The results not only explain practical outcomes but also further theoretical developments in critical security studies.

The thesis is available Open Access, on the Stockholm University website, here. Congrats Louise!

New Project Funded! Understanding the ‘Creeping Crisis’

Arjen Boin, Magnus Ekengren and Mark Rhinard have been awarded a major 4-year grant to study the dynamics and management demands of ‘creeping crises’. The project, which runs from 2019-2023 is titled ‘Understanding the Creeping Crisis: Towards Transboundary Detection, Intervention, and Management.’

Creeping crises are crises that simmer under the radar to suddenly and unexpectedly explode in the societal domain. They originate, travel and escalate owing to transboundary dynamics. They are the product of the social and technical spaces in which we live. This transboundary nature of creeping crises makes them hard to understand, detect, trace and contain. Practitioners need new knowledge and evidence-based strategies to prepare for these creeping crises. This project generates a set of scientifically validated frameworks for practitioners to understand and act upon creeping crises. It will help practitioners protect Swedish society from creeping crises by employing evidence-based and forward-thinking strategies. We will analyze cross-border dynamics, studying them within a variety of real-life natural, technical and social crises, in order to produce three important insights for MSB: where creeping crises originate and how they emerge (and thus can be better detected in the future), how they travel (and thus can be stopped), and how they can be contained (if and when they escalate into full crises). This project will identify what steps can be taken and where resources are best invested to address this increasingly challenging development. Outputs include academic publications and policy papers that result in methods and checklists for immediate use. We will organize frequent meetings with MSB officials and disseminate our findings in newspaper editorials, public workshops and scholarly conferences.

More information is available here: https://www.fhs.se/arkiv/nyheter/2019-03-29-tolv-miljoner-till-forskning-om-hoten-fran-smygande-kriser.html

New paper on Civil Protection Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region

Magnus Ekengren and Mark Rhinard have, together with Costan Barzanje, published a report on civil protection cooperation in the baltic sea region. In this report, the authors map and assess the capacity of the institutional landscape of the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) for transboundary crisis management cooperation.

The report is published by the Swedish Institute of International Affairs and can be found at the link below.

Barzanje, C., Ekengren, M. and Rhinard, M. (2018) Working in the Same Direction? Civil Protection Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, UI Paper no. 4, October 2018.

First PhD in Sweden in the subject of International Relations

Societal Security Research Group member Elin Jakobsson is the first PhD in the subject area of International Relations. Her dissertation concerns how norms are accepted in the international community and she specifically studies norms related to disaster risk reduction and climate-induced migration.

The full version of the thesis Norm Acceptance in the International Community: A study of disaster risk reduction and climate-induced migration can be found here.

Read more about Elin, her research and the degree at the Department of Economic history and International Relations website.