DISASTER RISK REDUCTION
Disaster risk refers to the potential losses that a natural hazard—such as a hurricane, flood, or storm—could pose to persons and communities, damaging their safety and well-being. Disater impacts include losses in life and health, economic loss, displacement, and reduced access to food and education. The degree of impact and severity of the disaster are directly related to factors in our built environment and society: from the way we grow our food and build our homes, to the organization of our government and diversification of our economy. Put simply, disaster risk is a combination of hazard, exposure of persons and assets to this hazard, and their vulnerability, or susceptibility, to the damaging effects of the hazard.
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is the systematic effort to reduce the factors in our society and built environment that magnify the impact of natural hazards. It includes activities like disaster preparedness and early warning, reducing the exposure of persons and property, tackling the consequences of poverty and inequality, providing education on disaster preparedness and risk reduction, and implementing sound land management. DRR aims to strengthen people and communities’ resilience to natural hazards to prevent disasters and protect livelihoods, health, socioeconomic assets, and cultural heritage. As such, it is an investment in preventing future losses and is more cost-effective than relying primarily on post-disaster response and recovery.
Between 2005 and 2015, 700.000 people lost their lives as a result of disasters, and more than 1.5 billion people were affected by them. In the same period, disasters caused more than $1.3 trillion in economic loss and, only between 2008 and 2012, displaced 144 million people. Even as disaster risk reduction efforts are underway, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and their resulting risk of disaster, as reported by the IPCC in its SREX and Fifth Assessment reports. It is also expected to intensify communities’ vulnerability to these events through environmental degradation and scarcity of food and water. Socioeconomic factors like poverty and urban population growth will concomitantly contribute to exacerbate vulnerability to natural hazards. It is against this backdrop that extreme weather events appear, for the first time, as the year’s most prominent global risk in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report.
The inextricability of climate change and disaster risk is by now clear. The Hyogo Framework for Action, which guided disaster risk reduction efforts from 2005 to 2015, already identified the need to integrate DRR and climate change adaptation efforts. The 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction reiterated the relationship between DRR measures and climate change adaptation and emphasized the need for coordination and coherence in the DRR, climate change, and sustainable development agendas. Disaster risk reduction, with its aim to strengthen the resilience of communities to all hazards, is an essential piece of the sustainable development puzzle.
Yet, much work remains to be done. Important challenges include the need for increased collaboration between the public and private sectors including government, business, civil society organizations, and research institutions; the need for capacity building at all levels of government, especially local authorities; and the need to involve the general public in a inclusive and participatory manner, particularly through public education and awareness.
ICCG will dedicate particular attention to the theme “Disaster Risk Reduction”, Hot Topic of 2017. DRR is a central component of the post-2015 development agenda, and complementary to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and a resilient world as defined in the Paris Agreement. Through research, seminars, and the activities of its observatories, ICCG will aim to deepen our understanding of disaster risk reduction. The Hot Topic thereby intends to create a platform for the dissemination of information that is both comprehensive and approachable to policymakers and the public.
Below is a list of actions taken by ICCG in the field of DRR studies, and a list of other sources relevant for the hot topic.