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ATLAS-ENGAGE - Civil Society Involvement in Population Protection


Disaster Research Unit (DRU)

Principal Investigator:

Federal Agency for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK)

Grant ID: BBK III.1 - 41201 / 0011

In cooperation with

German Red Cross, General Secretariat (DRK)

Technical support

Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW)

Oct 01, 2021 — Sep 30, 2023


The project "Atlas of Civil Society Engagement in Population Protection - Societal Change and Involvement in Authorities and Organizations with Security Tasks" deals with different forms of involvement in population protection and disaster situations against the backdrop of societal developments.

Population protection has been under multiple pressures to adapt: globalization, demographic change, and climate change go hand-in-hand with a transformation in hazard and operational situations. At the same time, there are changes in motivational structures, and the emergence of more flexible forms of civil engagement (e.g. so-called unattached, spontaneous, or digital volunteers) compete with more traditional, long-term commitment. This project contrasts existing concepts from research and practice with these challenges. The approaches are analyzed based on their relevance and suitability for volunteer engagement in different organizations in population protection.

The project thoroughly examines the state-of-the-art of different forms of engagement in population protection. With the help of additional expert interviews, a survey-based SWOT analysis, and scenario thinking, it aims to develop a typology for various ways of volunteering and to assess them against the background of various megatrends. The results will be published in a monograph, with recommendations for action. The project’s aim is a comprehensive, research-based and practice-oriented atlas which portrays prospects for civil society engagement in population protection against the background of societal change, risk trends, and institutional characteristics of emergency and rescue services (specifically, “Behörden und Organisationen mit Sicherheitsaufgaben”, or “Authorities and Organizations with Security Tasks”).

The ATLAS-ENGAGE project is funded by the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance, technically supported by the Federal Agency for Technical Relief, conducted by the Disaster Research Unit in cooperation with the German Red Cross, and assisted by a number of other stakeholders.



  • Merkes, S. T.; Zimmermann, T.; Voss, M. (2024): Whose disaster? Disaster response as a conflicted field between cooperation and competition. In: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 106, 104459. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2024.104459 

  • Zimmermann, Theresa; Merkes, Sara T.; Voss, Martin (2023): Zusammenarbeit in Krisen und Katastrophen gestalten. Handlungsempfehlungen für Behörden und Organisationen im Bevölkerungsschutz zum Umgang mit vielfältigem Engagement. KFS Arbeitsmaterialien Fokus Praxis Nr. 10. Berlin. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/refubium-40756