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Security Research Event

The representation of the PPHS team came to Brussels for #SRE2023 – the Security Research Event which is an annual meeting where industry, policy makers and knowledge institutions meet to discuss current challenges for security research in Europe.

We are here through PREVENT PCP and the INDEED projects and, more broadly, as active members of the European security ecosystem. It’s fantastic to link with new organisations and strengthen existing partnerships during the two-day event.

New Climate for SRE

The SRE takes place for the first time since Helsinki 2019. Why? In the interim, we’ve faced a global pandemic, and a war started in Ukraine. These situations made it difficult to organise a physical meeting, but also they perfectly illustrate the importance of being resilient and prepared to deal with a multitude of challenges.

The tone at the event’s start was strikingly contrasting to the 2019 edition. We now face enormous risks and security vulnerabilities across myriad areas – connected with so-called ‘megatrends’ that influence the world globally.

The opening presentations provided a sobering reminder of the potential dangers that lay in front of European society. A frank and honest assessment was presented of the security situation in Sweden, an area typically considered a calm and peaceful country, which currently faces increasing environmental crises, gang culture, and regular terrorist activities. The speech was a candid overview, emphasising similarities between Sweden and the rest of Europe and underlining requirements for dealing with diverse security threats – natural and human.

INDEED was one of our projects presented during the event.

Modern Challenges

The security threat landscape is evolving. Constant technological advances, current conflicts, and environmental and climate change supplement the more traditional threats we must address to ensure civil security. Throughout the first day, speakers and panellists reiterated the importance of continuing with ongoing research and practical applications to make positive changes to boost security. We heard how appropriate funding is required to adapt to the changing issues, and we need more multidisciplinary, citizen-centric actions to ensure the security community delivers positive value across Europe and individual member states.

Contribution to EU programmes is fundamental for success and improvements required to deal with ever-changing threats. The converging effects of climate change and security challenges result from global decisions and political instability. The consequences and impact of the megatrends produce cascading elements of risk. The policies, responses and decisions mean that we (Europe) are ultimately responsible for affecting future directions.

It was highlighted that progress has been impeded with a lack of applied uptake within operational environments, and this needs to be tackled moving forward. Speakers emphasised that it is not about giving a grant to a research action – it is about understanding why we are taking certain actions. We must understand the threats and complete dedicated steps to address the social changes and environmental obstacles facing Europe.

Connection ⇒ Cooperation

We’re living in digital societies. People’s approach to life has changed, and it continues to do so. We’re increasingly connected to the internet, and people often live in bubbles – those around them continuously reinforce their views and attitudes, and the polarised reality causes uncertainty and unique challenges, particularly in our digital world.

Presenters highlighted that we must not work in siloes to tackle the issues successfully. Instead, it’s imperative to break down barriers and take proactive and preventative problem-solving approaches. For this, public engagement is pivotal. Co-design and embedding the public interest into the threat response is crucial.

There are no easy solutions, and it’s difficult to predict and articulate exactly what’s happening in the security sector. Still, cooperation and working together are fundamental, and this was highlighted repeatedly. 

PPHS would welcome robust and constructive evaluations of ongoing work, and we are committed to continuing and contributing to strengthening European security across a range of domains in future actions.

The PREVENT-PCP project stand on SRE 2023.