A Review of Literature on Community Responses to Environmental Crises

  • Natalia Bełdyga
Keywords: community response to environmental crises, disaster preparedness strategies, disaster response


In the light of the environmental crisis caused by unprecedented accelerating interrelated changes accompanied by the most recent ones caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the humanitarian, refugee, and nuclear crisis provoked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, contemporary society has been challenged to confront these complex and uncertain times and to recognise a considerable need to respond not only to the environmental crisis but to multiple crises in general. Another critical question to be answered by contemporary society, which is also a research question in this review, is how an efficient response to crises caused by those accelerating interrelated changes should be organised. Therefore, for the purpose of answering the above research questions, this literature review-based article aims to examine the empirical studies on community responses to environmental crises. The results of the seventeen analysed articles on community responses to environmental crises and disasters indicate that these responses, given by either members of the directly affected community or by local, regional, or central authorities, were in majority of cases not integrated, as if the collective effort to cope with the emergency were organised simultaneously yet apart. Another observation is that the first respondents on site, who often were also directly affected by an emergency, performed a significant role in response as they had and pooled necessary material and non-material resources, for instance, experience, practical knowledge, and equipment. Based on these findings, the author argues that for future crisis and disaster research, it is essential to examine those cases where there has been indeed an efficient integrated response organised as a result of joint cooperation between all affected actors so that such accounts are incorporated into future disaster preparedness strategies for the organisation of more effective response.