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The Nordic Welfare Watch - in response to crisis

The aim of this study is to investigate how well Nordic welfare systems are prepared for various crises. The welfare state plays an extensive role in crisis and disasters, yet emergency response plans and the organization of civil defence do include the health systems in their planning while the role of social services is rather unclear.  Furthermore, the literature shows a need for long-term response plans, which are typically governed by municipalities and social services in cooperation with health care services.    

The aim of this pioneering study is twofold: 1) Investigate the role of social services in disaster planning in the Nordic countries and evaluate the experience and lessons learned from the Welfare Watch created in Iceland following the bank crisis (Evaluation of the Welfare Watch); and 2) Evaluate the challenges for which Nordic welfare systems should be prepared.

This project is overseen by a steering committee of five specialists led by Professor Guðný Björk Eydal, Faculty of Social Work, University of Iceland. There will be a representative of each Nordic state in the group. Each representative appoints and leads their own advisory team of 5-7 experts whom have researched the role of welfare systems/social services or are currently working as specialists in the field of civil defence. Other members of the steering committee:

  • Rasmus Dahlberg, Denmark. PhD Fellow at the Danish Emergency Management Agency and the University of Copenhagen.
  • Merja Rapeli, Finland. Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
  • Björn Hvinden, Norway. Professor, NOVA. An institute at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences.
  • Tapio Salonen, Sweden. Professor, Faculty of Health and Society, Malmö University.
  • Carin Björngren Cuadra. Docent, Malmö University.

Project manager is Ingibjörg Lilja Ómarsdóttir, University of Iceland.

See advisory boards in each country.

Further information on the project plan: 


  • The workshop Communities coping with Crisisis Grímsnes 20-22 of April 2016

Reports and related material

  • New Report: Local Social Services in Nordic countries in Times of Disaster
    The aim of the report was to investigate the roles of local social services in times of disaster. Achieving this aim required answering the following questions: Do local social services have a formal role in the contingency planning of the emergency management systems in the five Nordic countries? If so, what are these roles?
  • Social Services in Times of Disaster - Multidisciplinary Nordic Symposium
  • Working papers

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