Duda P,, Kelman I,, Glick N., Sokolenko V., Pusenkova Nina , Nikitina Elena
Disaster risk perceptions and multinational cooperation in Barentsburg, Svalbard // Polar Record. 2022. Vol. 58, Art. e6. DOI 10.1017/S003224742200002X. URL: https://doi.org/10.1017/S003224742200002X. Published online : 14.03.2022.
Publication Type:

DOI 10.1017/S003224742200002X

Svalbard’s geographical positioning, environmental characteristics and multinational population make it conducive for considering informality and multinational cooperation in disaster risk reduction and response. Most research examining disaster risks and disasters for Svalbard has focused on Norwegian efforts in and for the main settlement of Longyearbyen, with none covering Svalbard’s second-largest settlement of Barentsburg. This paper addresses this gap by analysing how 21 Barentsburg residents deal with disasters. We conducted semi-structured interviews, visually aided by the revised PRISM (Pictorial Representation of Illness and Self Measure) tool, to examine interviewees’ disaster perceptions, sources for disaster-related information and learning, and formal and informal sources for dealing with disaster risks and disasters. Our findings suggest that, despite being risk-aware, Barentsburg interviewees consider the settlement, and Svalbard as a whole, to be safe. The explanation is their faith in the existing disaster-related mechanisms, made up of both local Russian entities and the Norwegian rescue services, especially Svalbard’s governor (Sysselmesteren). Interviewees rely significantly on Russian and Norwegian informal actors and relationships for disaster-related information. These findings suggest that alongside formal approaches, informality may play a significant role in dealing with disasters in Barentsburg, which itself might serve as a platform for international cooperation.

Keywords: Disasters | Disaster diplomacy | Disaster response | Disaster risk reduction | Informal disaster governance |


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