Almost exactly one year after the flood disaster at the river Ahr in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, the event as well as the future of civil protection and disaster relief was the topic of a hearing of the Interior Committee in the German Bundestag. Prof. Dr. Lars Gerhold, Head of the WG Interdisciplinary Security Research and the affiliated Public Security Research Forum as well as Principal Investigator at the ECDF, was one of the ten experts invited to speak on the topic.
In his statement, Prof. Dr. Lars Gerhold primarily addressed the role of science and research and the transfer of scientific findings to politics and practice. For Gerhold, two points in particular are especially important from a scientific perspective for the future of civil protection:
One is the consideration of existing findings from research. These are already available on a large number of topics, but do not find their way into political practice. Therefore, it is necessary to set up a scientific transfer office that is financed over a long period of time and can work accordingly with foresight, plan and accompany the transfer of the results. Gerhold refers to this as catalytic science: "Communication about the findings of this research and the innovations it produces must go hand in hand with a reduction in complexity and thus also the abandonment of detailed knowledge and precision. To deal with this successfully, the approach of catalytic science should be strengthened: A transfer office is needed that systematically processes knowledge from inter- and transdisciplinary security research and presents the relevant information in an easily accessible and comprehensible form to enable dialogical and trusting communication between science and politics."
On the other hand, a position for strategic foresight should be created, for example linked to the Joint Competence Center for Civil Protection (GeKoB) of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), in order to be able to expand situation-oriented work with an overarching and long-term perspective. The central questions to be addressed by such a unit would be those relating to knowledge for orientation and action, whereby processes of social change should be included first and foremost and the focus should not be solely on technical solutions. Scientific support would be essential.
The points raised were taken up with great interest by the deputies present, and in particular the impulse to establish a scientific transfer office was received with great interest.
In addition to Prof. Dr. Lars Gerhold, Albrecht Broemme (Chairman of the Future Forum Public Safety), Ralph Tiesler(President of the BBK), Gerd Friedsam (President of the THW), Andy Neumann (Ahrweiler), Christian Reuter (Secretary General of the DRK), Armin Schaus (Command Territorial Tasks of the German Armed Forces), Albrecht Prinz von Croy(Vice President of the Malteser Hilfsdienst) and as further scientific experts Prof Dr. Annegret Thieken (AG Geographie und Naturrisikoforschung, University of Potsdam) and Prof. Dr. Martin Voß (Katastrophenforschungsstelle, Freie Universität).
A video recording of the committee meeting and the comments of all experts can be found here.
Prof. Dr. Gerhold's entire statement can be viewed here.