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European Youth Week: Spotlight on Niamh Reilly

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European Youth Week 2024 (12 - 19 April 2024) is an event organised by the European Commission every second year to celebrate and promote youth engagement, participation, and active citizenship all over Europe and beyond. In honour of European Youth Week, we will be publishing a series of interviews with young people in the field of civil protection.

By Knowledge Network – Staff member

How have you benefited from the Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network (UCPKN) as a young person? 

During my first professional engagement as a researcher, I was contracted to the FÓGRA project, an Irish Research Council-funded collaboration between researchers in Dublin City University’s Business and Society Research Cluster and the state meteorological service, Met Éireann. The project focused on assessing the weather and climate service needs of the Irish public and the weather warning system within the broader context of warning and informing. This produced a capstone report of the FÓGRA project’s research findings, “Shaping the Future of Weather and Climate Services in Ireland,” as well as associated academic articles and conference papers and presentations. 

As a result of my work on this project, I was selected as one of only two national representatives to the Youth in Civil Protection & Disaster Risk Management study and networking event in Brussels held in October 2022, organised by the UCPKN. This was an incredible opportunity to network with civil protection practitioners from all over Europe.  

Following this event, I was one of a small cohort selected from the national representatives, invited to attend the 6th Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre Annual Seminar in Paris in November 2022. It was fantastic to reconnect with those I had met previously in Brussels and to gain deeper insights into disaster risk management. 

Another personal highlight was attending the 2023 All-Island Disaster Risk Reduction Conference, where our research on public safety messaging for border communities was presented. 

What challenges do you face as a civil protection practitioner? 

In my capacity as a researcher, I face the same challenges as other academics trying to gain an understanding of the processes and concepts that influence civil protection activities, and then communicating these findings to policymakers and the first responders, as well as the wider international community.  

I feel it is so important that academics work with practitioners, those on the frontlines of disasters and emergencies, because it is easy to become siloed and focus purely on academic output, forgetting to connect and communicate with those we want to benefit from what we discover.  

That is why organisations like the UCPKN and the EMII are so important in bringing together what are two halves of the same coin: researchers and first responders, the theory, and the practice. 


About the author

The Knowledge Network – Staff member

The Knowledge Network editorial team is here to share the news and stories of the Knowledge Network community. We'd love to hear your news, events and personal stories about your life in civil protection and disaster risk management. If you've got a story to share, please contact us.

Thematic series

European Youth Week