13 Jul 2023    Journal Articles
Fornalé, Elisa

Trust in disaster resilience

Trust in disaster resilience

A new article published by WTI's Prof Elisa Fornalé in the Journal "Disaster Prevention and Management", Emerald Publishing


The erosion of ‘trust’ (among citizens as well as within and between institutional levels) is a worrying aspect of these turbulent times in Europe and beyond. Trust (between citizens and institutions, citizens and experts, policymakers and experts, and among different levels of governance) is crucial in all dimensions of disaster resilience. Risk perceptions stem from a complex web of feedback between individuals, communities, institutions, and experts. Sometimes, institutions and experts are slow or even resistant to accepting signals and knowledge about risks coming from the grassroots. Or, it is the other way around, and citizens are skeptical about the information coming from institutions and experts. Thus, trust must work in all directions (from citizens to institutions, from experts to citizens, etc.) to build a cooperative framework for action.

Our article aims to explore the construction of trust and distrust in communities dealing with historical, actual, or potential disasters by putting forward a three-dimensional approach (societal, cooperative, and institutional). We convey the idea that less tangible aspects such as culture, contextual history, knowledge, and habits shape the perception of risk, the degree of preparedness and, ultimately, the impacts of environmental changes.

These elements affect cooperative behaviors, and it is expected that the institutional environment – which will vary across domestic, national, and regional contexts – will play a significant role in nurturing trust or distrust in relation to disaster risk.

This article will offer valuable insights by developing a new conceptual framework that can be translated and validated by future research.

Trust in disaster resilience