International Seminar on Response Diversity

As we enter an era of unprecedented turbulence at the planetary level, we urgently need to rethink our crisis management theories, principles, and practices to be fit for purpose in the twenty-first century.

The way we respond to threats to our society is no longer enough for an interconnected, globalised and rapidly changing world. As crises become more complex, their effects can cascade and ripple to all parts of society, the economy, and the environment. They overlap and amplify each other. Their effects are not limited to specific geographical regions or sectors of society, and many continue indefinitely.

Based on the latest scientific evidence, leading experts from across Europe — including the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to the European Commission — argue that response diversity is one of the key measures needed now.

Response diversity is an important component of resilience and represents the range of different options available to respond to disruptions and threats in general. This is a challenging concept in times when societies often strive to increase efficiency by removing redundancies — but in a dynamic and uncertain world, redundancies and diversity provide multiple options for responding to new and unexpected crises.

The purpose of the event was to discuss how the European Union and its member states could develop proactive measures to deal with multiple and interacting crises, and how the concept of response diversity could be interpreted and implemented in European policy.

Participants in the hybrid seminar included European and international policy makers professionals active in crisis management and prevention, civil society representatives and academics.

Co-organised by the Environment & Development Resource Centre, the Scientific Advice Mechanism to the European Commission and the Stockholm Resilience Centre

In partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee with the participation of the Brussels Dialogue on Climate Diplomacy and GLOBE European Union

Date and Time: 24 November 2023 - 14:00-18:00

Venue: European Economic and Social Committee 

Participants: List of Expected Particpants [PDF]

Summary Report: Forthcoming

Video Recording: Forthcoming


13:15-14:00Arrival and Registration

14:00-14:15Opening and Welcoming Remarks                                                   
Mr Ronald A. Kingham, Executive Director, Environment & Development Resource Centre
Dr Céline Tschirhart, Scientific Policy Officer, Scientific Advice Mechanism to the European Commission
Ms Tzonka Iotzova, Head of Unit, External Relations, EESC

 Session 1: Moderated by Mr Toby Wardman
Head of Communications, Scientific Advice Mechanism to the European Commission

14:15-14:35Understanding Response Diversity and How it Works  
Dr Thomas Elmqvist, Professor in Natural Resource Management, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University / Former Lead, UN “Cities and Biodiversity Outlook” / Former Lead, Urban Planet: Knowledge towards Sustainable Cities, Future Earth

14:35-15:00Panel of Respondents                                                                       
- Mr Olaf DeussenMember of Cabinet, Cabinet of EU Commissioner Lenarcic, European Commission
- Ms Olimpia Imperiali, Policy Officer, Emergency Response Unit, Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, (DG ECHO), European Commission
- Ms Maarja Kruusmaa, Member, Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to the European Commission / Professor of Biorobotics and Vice-rector for Research at the University of Technology (TalTech), Tallinn


15:15-15:30How to make the EU Climate Diplomacy more effective 
Mr Stefano Mallia, President, Employer's Group, EESC / Rapporteur of the REX/569 EESC Opinion on the EU Climate Diplomacy for adoption in December 2023

15:30-15:45 Discussion
15:45-16:15Coffee Break

Session 2: Moderated by Mr Ronald A. Kingham, 
Executive Director, Environment & Development Resource Centre

16:15-16:30The Multidimensions of the NATO Climate Change and Security Action Plan 
Mr Paul Rushton, Officer, Climate and Security, NATO


16:45-17:00Follow-up and Closing of the Seminar 


Essential Reading:

Walker et al., “Response Diversity as a Sustainability Strategy”, Nature Sustainability, 30 January 2023 - Full text / Extract (2 pages)

EU Climate Diplomacy - EESC Own-initiative opinion - Ongoing (updated on 09/10/2023) - Bureau decision date: 25/01/2023 - This opinion was subject to debate and vote at the REX Section meeting on 28 September 2023 and the final plenary vote is planned for 13-14 December 2023. Directly download the opinion here.

NATO Climate Change and Security Action Plan - Compendium of Best Practices (July 2023) - PDF 1.5 MB

More Background Material:


Response Diversity Network The aims of the Response Diversity Network currently include: To organise and accelerate scientific advances about response diversity; To promote the inclusion of response diversity in the monitoring and assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem change; and To provide clear and accessible information about response diversity to relevant individuals and organisations.

Books, Papers and Reports 

"Europe wants to get better at planning for the worst: The EU is developing the concept of ‘open strategic autonomy’ to survive and thrive in an increasingly uncertain world. It might even put a senior commissioner in charge of it", By Sarah Anne Aarup, Politco, 11 October 2023

“Maui fires could taint the island’s waters”. Scientists are investigating Researchers in Hawaii are studying the deadly blazes’ effects on drinking-water quality and how they might affect local marine ecosystems. By Jeff Tollefson, Nature, 30 August 2023 

Hill, Alice, “The Age of Climate Disaster Is Here: Preparing for a Future of Extreme Weather”, Foreign Affairs, 25 August 2023

Samuel R. P.-J. Ross, Owen L. Petchey, Takehiro Sasaki, David W. Armitage, “How to measure response diversity”, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, British Ecological Society, Volume 14, Issue 5, May 2023, First published, 21 March 2023 

Walker et al., “Response Diversity as a Sustainability Strategy”, Nature Sustainability, 30 January 2023 

SAPEA Evidence Review Report and Scientific opinion from the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to the European Commission  “Strategic crisis management in the EU”, 22 November 2022 

Mohamed Behnassi, Himangana Gupta, Fred Kruidbos, Anita Parlow (Editors), The Climate-Conflict-Displacement Nexus from a Human Security Perspective, Springer Cham, 2 April 2022

M. Nyström, J.-B. Jouffray, A. V. Norström, B. Crona, P. Søgaard Jørgensen, S. R. Carpenter, Ö. Bodin, V. Galaz & C. Folke, Anatomy and resilience of the global production ecosystem Nature volume 575, pages 98–108, 6 November 2019

Hill, Alice C. and Martinez-Diaz, Leonardo, “Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption” Oxford University Press, November 2019

Lozano Basanta, Juan Alfonso, “Disaster Risk Reduction contribution to Peacebuilding programmes”, Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, Student thesis, 2014 

Thomas Elmqvist, Carl Folke, Magnus Nyström, Garry Peterson, Jan Bengtsson, Brian Walker and Jon Norberg, Response Diversity, Ecosystem Change, and Resilience, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Vol. 1, No. 9 (Nov., 2003), pp. 488-494 (7 pages) 

News Articles and Interviews 

"Europe wants to get better at planning for the worst: The EU is developing the concept of ‘open strategic autonomy’ to survive and thrive in an increasingly uncertain world. It might even put a senior commissioner in charge of it", By Sarah Anne Aarup, Politco, 11 October 2023

“Tested in Greece’s Fires: An Emergency Force for 27 Countries” The European Union deployed firefighters and equipment in what could be a preview of how it handles disasters linked to climate change”, By Matina Stevis-Gridneff, New York Times, 30 August 2023 

“The next pandemic could strike crops, not people: Genetic uniformity is central to modern farming. It leaves us vulnerable to plant disease breakouts.”, By Saima Sidik, GRIST, 22 August 2023 

“Strategic Crisis Management in the EU: How to be ready for wildfires?” with Professor Thomas Elmqvist, SAPEA Communications, YouTube, 24 July 2023 

Interview with Mr. Alfonso Lozano Basanta, Coordinator of the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) in the European Commission in the context of the Militaries for Civil(Ian) Emergencies - M4CE Project, Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS), YouTube, 20 November 2021 

UN Documents

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (2023) GAR Special Report: Measuring Resilience for the Sustainable Development Goals. Geneva. 

NATO Documents

Environment, climate change and security (24 July 2023)

NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence (24 July 2023)

Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre - EADRCC (20 Sep. 2021)

Resilience, civil preparedness and Article 3 (02 August 2023

Climate Change & Security Impact Assessment - The NATO Secretary General's report (2023) - PDF 6 MB

NATO Climate Change and Security Action Plan - Compendium of Best Practices (July 2023) - PDF 1.5 MB

Implementing NATO’s Climate Security Agenda: Challenges Ahead (10 August 2023)

EU Documents 

JOINT COMMUNICATION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL: A new outlook on the climate and security nexus: Addressing the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on peace, security and defence, HIGH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNION FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND SECURITY POLICY, European Commission, 28 June 2023 

“The EU Strategic Compass”, European Economic and Social Committee, Adopted on 25 January 2023 

Statement from the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies “Values in times of crisis: Strategic crisis management in the EU” Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission, 2022 

Hearing and Study Group on the EU Climate Diplomacy (3 May 2023) – Public hearing in the framework of the 1st meeting of the Study Group REX/569 The EU Climate Diplomacy

On the issues covered by the opinion on the Strategic Compass: 

Related EESC opinions:        

REX/463 - The new EU strategy on foreign and security policy        

CCMI/154 - European defence industrial development programme        

CCMI/162 - European Defence Fund        

CCMI/173 - The industrial dimension of the Security Union (own-initiative opinion)        

CCMI/179 - Action Plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries        

CCMI/189 - Roadmap on security and defence technologies 

REX/402 – EU Maritime Security Strategy        

REX/542 – Improving the EU's capacity to respond to extreme events outside its territory        

REX/546 – Restrictions for transport operators in Belarus  

REX/554 – Instrumentalization of migrants

European Parliament / EPRS:        

REPORT on a European Parliament recommendation to the Council and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the EU’s Foreign, Security and Defence Policy after the Russian invasion of Ukraine        

Strategic Compass: Towards adoption, Elena Lazarou with Linda Tothova, At a Glance, EPRS, November 2021   

Where will the EU's Strategic Compass point?, Tania Latici and Elena Lazarou, Briefing, EPRS, October 2021        

The European Union's 'Strategic Compass' process, Elena Lazarou and Tania Latici, Graphic, EPRS, April 2021        

EU Strategic Autonomy in a Time of Great-Power Rivalry Dr. Elena Lazarou (EPRS) at LSC22, 29/05/2022 - Video


EU cooperation on security and defence (        

Security and defence: EU to move forward on common security and defence (Council 10/05/2021)        

Council conclusions on Security and Defence (Council, 10/05/2021)        

A Strategic Compass for a stronger EU security and defence in the next decade (21/03/2022)        

Statement of the Members of the European Council, 26 February 2021        

G7 Leaders’ Communiqué - Executive summary 28/06/2022

Main EEAS documents:        

Towards a Strategic Compass (21/03/2022, EEAS website)   

Foreword by HR/VP Josep Borrell  (EN) (FR)  24/03/2022   

A Strategic Compass for Security and Defence - EEAS Website (         

A Strategic Compass for Security and Defence - document (EN21/03/2022

EEAS - Factsheets etc.:         

The European Peace Facility 18.07.2022        

The EU' climate change and defence roadmap 31.03.2022 

Countering hybrid threats 31.03.2022        

Factsheet: A stronger civilian side of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy 30.03.2022        

EU Missions and Operations 28.03.2022        

EU-NATO Cooperation 26.03.2022        

Military Mobility 26.03.2022        

Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) - factsheet 25.03.2022        

Reinforcing the EU-UN Strategic Partnership on Crisis Management 24.03.2022        

EU Rapid Deployment Capacity 21.03.2022        

Questions and answers: a background for the Strategic Compass 21.03.2022        

A Strategic Compass for the EU 21.03.2022        

Infographic - A Strategic Compass for the EU 2022   

Factsheet: Coordinated Maritime Presences 21.03.2022   

Cybersecurity: EU External Action 16.12.2020        

Questions and answers: Threat Analysis – a background for the Strategic Compass 20.11.2020        

Implementation Plan on Security and Defence (01.03.2018) 

Other relevant publications:                     

EUISS activities and publications on Strategic Compass     

EUISS Podcast: What is the Strategic Compass? 05/11/202 

Eastern Partnership: Speech by High Representative/Vice-

President Josep Borrell at the   EP plenary 08.06.2022

EU’s Foreign, Security and Defence Policy after the Russian invasion of Ukraine: Speech by               

High Representative/Vice-President Josep 07.06.2022

Civilian CSDP: High Representative Josep Borrell delivers keynote address on the 15th       

Anniversary of the Civilian Planning Conduct and Capability 23.05.2022                   

The Strategic Compass is out: now we have to implement it 25.03.2022                    

Time to move forward with the Strategic Compass 18.11.2021                   

A Strategic Compass for Europe 15.11.2021

Interview on Strategic Compass 12.11.2021

Europe cannot afford to be a bystander in the world. We need a “strategic compass”.    10.10.2021                  

Rentrée 2021: Afghanistan and beyond 06.09.2021            

The EU's Strategic Compass for Security and Defence (, 31.05.2021)                 

What’s next for European defence? 07.05.2021                 

Moving forward on European defence 28.02.2021