More than a checkbox: engaging youth in disaster risk reduction and resilience in Canada

  • Robin S. CoxEmail author
  • Tiffany T. Hill
  • Tamara Plush
  • Cheryl Heykoop
  • Crystal Tremblay
Original Paper


As the risks and costs associated with disasters and climate change escalate, international, national, and regional governments are searching for ways to increase citizen engagement, as well as develop innovations and investments to reduce disaster risks and enhance climate change adaptation. As a signatory to the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction (DRR), Canada has committed to a whole of society approach to DRR that includes engaging youth as credible stakeholders. Historically, in the context of disasters, young people (children and youth) have more often been framed one-dimensionally as a population at high risk of experiencing negative impacts during disasters, and, therefore, a population in need of protection. However, youth have more recently been recognized as having potential as change agents in their communities and stakeholders in the development and implementation of DRR policies and practices (Cox et al. in Int J Disaster Risk Reduct 22:249–356, 2017). As the first digitally native generation, youth today are equipped with unprecedented technological savvy, an entrepreneurial orientation, and confidence in their ability to change the world. From this perspective, youth, aged 15–24, stand poised as a significant capacity multiplier in Canada’s efforts to reduce the risks and impacts associated with disasters and climate change. This paper explores the current state of youth engagement in DRR in Canada and opportunities for extending and deepening that engagement.


Youth and disasters Youth engagement Disaster risk reduction Disaster resilience Climate change Disasters 



We would like to thank many youth who shared their expertise and perspectives with us. We also gratefully acknowledge the funding from Alberta Innovates Health Solutions and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada to Dr. Cox that supported this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ResiliencebyDesign Research Innovation Lab, School of Humanitarian Studies, Faculty of Applied and Social SciencesRoyal Roads UniversityVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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