As the global pandemic ravaged the world, concern and interest about public risk management has surged, as well as a will to improve current systems to prevent future global catastrophes.
To capitalize on this opportunity, in the last few months we (Juan García, Jaime Sevilla and Ángela María Aristizábal) have planned and began a project to collaborate with public officials working on Spanish risk management.
In this article we will introduce our goals, our results so far and planned next steps.
As we see it, our project has two main components. One involves creating authoritative online content in Spanish about Global Catastrophic Risks (GCRs). The other is about collaborating with the Spanish government to identify and fix gaps in public risk management.
We focused on Spain because the three of us are Spanish-speaking, two of us are Spanish and one of us lives in Spain, so we share a language, a culture and a context with Spanish public servants. Besides, work in countries other than the UK and USA seemed relatively neglected in the GCR community.
Some high level goals we are working towards include:
- Creating a link between the global GCR community and Spanish civil servants
- Move the culture of public risk management in Spain towards active foresight
- Promoting the creation of plans to prevent and mitigate priority GCRs (food chain disruption, nuclear war, extreme climate change, AI risk, pandemics, etc)
- Creating a community of spanish-speaking experts working on GCRs to facilitate collaboration, and eventually produce policy recommendations.
- Creating public resources in Spanish introducing GCRs to a wide audience
Our work so far
Our two main outputs so far are our webpage and our report on Civil Protection in Spain.
We created our website (riesgoscatastroficosglobales.com) to be a public repository of information about global catastrophic risks.
It hosts a directory of Spanish-speaking experts working on GCRs, and several articles in Spanish about GCRs.
You can read more about our website here.
Report on the Spanish Civil Protection system
The National Civil Protection System is a service designed to protect people and material goods during emergencies and catastrophes.
We have interviewed the directors of six organizations that are part of this system, and written a report on its inner workings. We focus on explaining how they identify and prioritize risks. The report is available on our website.
Our goal with this project was to build a network of contacts and our understanding of the risk management system in Spain. We are quite happy to report we succeeded - and as a result of this project we will be signing a collaboration agreement with Madrid City Hall to help them improve their risk management plans.
You can read our takeaways from this project here, and a reflection on our process here.
We are interviewing other organizations in Spain working on other aspects of risk management, particularly the National Security System.
We are also organizing a workshop with Spanish civil servants. The goal is to discuss some concrete proposals to improve risk foresight and prevention.
We want to expand our directory of experts on our website. If we identify the right experts, we would want to collaborate with them to write encyclopedic articles in Spanish about GCRs.
In the long term, we would be interested in expanding our team to work in other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America.
If you have experience in either GCRs or Policy and want to collaborate, please reach out! We are interested in hiring people to work with us on this very important topic.
You can also read more about our approach, and a reflection on how to start similar projects, here.