Margot Steenbergen - "I Am Very Curious to See Through All That Brainstorming What Comes Out of It"




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Aug 03, 2015
by Rachitaa Gupta
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Margot Steenbergen - "I Am Very Curious to See Through All That Brainstorming What Comes Out of It"

Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre partners with Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change Margot Steenbergen, from Climate Centre leading an exercise at Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change

Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre has partnered with the ninth Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: Civic Voices - Justice, Rights and Social Change to present students with a challenge and encourage them to come up with innovative media solutions for the problem in the three weeks they will be working at the academy.

The Climate Centre, a Public Benefit Organization under Netherlands law, is a specialist reference centre of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) with the aim to help the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and its partners reduce the impacts of climate change and extreme-weather events on vulnerable people.

“In our work, we combine science, policy, and practice. And in order to ensure that valuable information is retained, we have taken up an increasingly large role in the field of learning and uptake,” explained Margot Steenbergen, Program Officer at the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre.

Steenbergen is mainly involved in learning and the uptake of information. She led a workshop at the media academy, where students got to play a game developed by the Climate Centre to understand the value of climate services and its uses during policy making.

“It [games] is found to be particularly effective over the years… Games are a fun but serious way of helping humanity tackle the complexities, volatilities and uncertainties that could be the hallmarks of the “new normal” for the global climate. But I think it is not just the games. We make use of a larger toolbox of participatory methods," shared Steenbergen.

A part of Climate Centre team has just begun work on the CRUA project – Community Resilience in Urban Areas, which is targeting: Hungary, Northern Ireland, and Denmark and has decided to share this project with the students as a challenge to come up with innovative media solutions for it during the three weeks of the media academy.

“Over the last years there is found to be an increase in floods happening [in European nations] and damage was happening as a result of these floods. Not only to properties but also to human lives. I believe over 3.4M people were affected since 2004,” stated Steenbergen.

Large amount of people are being affected during flooding in urban settings, especially in British Isles and Central Europe, and Steenbergen said their research shows that people in European setting depend on authorities a lot during disasters. "Certain situations extend beyond the capacity of the authorities and hence, it can be helpful for people to be resilient," said Steenbergen.

The CRUA project focuses on empowering urban population by building their emotional and community resilience to better respond to natural disasters as a community and decrease their dependency on the authorities.

“It is simply impossible to rely on authorities for everything. We can for lot of things and systems are in place and work really well but you cannot deal with every single vulnerable person or object and try to ensure their safety. It is not feasible,” emphasized Steenbergen.

She said that was just part of the problem though. The other issue during such disasters was the lack of “social cohesion”, a characteristic of rural areas, in the urban settings.

“Our aim is to increase the community resilience in these urban settings by ensuring two things – better preparedness for both, before and after a flood. So, what are we doing, having the roles better defined, for example, through family plans and community plans. Other is aiming for an increase in cohesion in doing so. It doesn’t look at material damage alone but also at the psychosocial aspect of it.”

According to Steenbergen, the project, she presented the students with, focuses on creating innovative tools for community engagement in European settings and “is slightly out of the ordinary for us, but I think particularly well suited for the purpose of this academy.”

“I am very curious to see what is next. I know this is a very intense process for the students. They have extremely long days. They are all stuck here in this mini reality so I am very curious to see through all that brainstorming what comes out of it.”

To read and join in with all the discussions in Salzburg, follow the hashtag #sac2015 on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: Civic Voices: Justice, Rights, and Social Change is part of the Salzburg Global series “Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change” and is  held in partnership with American University of BeirutAmerican University of SharjahBournemouth UniversityJordan Media InstituteEmerson CollegeIberoamericana UniversityPontificia Universidad Catolica ArgentinaSt. Pölten University of Applied SciencesChinese University of Hong KongUniversity of MarylandUniversity of MiamiUniversity of Rhode IslandUniversity of St Cyril and Methodius, and University of Texas.