2015 Vol. 6, No. 1

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Looking Back and Beyond Sendai: 25 Years of International Policy Experience on Disaster Risk Reduction
Sálvano Briceño
2015, 6(1): 1-7. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0040-y
The evolution in knowledge and application of disaster risk reduction in the 25 years of global cooperation on this issue has been uneven. While advances in knowledge have improved our understanding of the full nature of risk—the combination of hazards meeting vulnerability—the application of such knowledge has not been conducive to the development of institutional and technical mechanisms to address the full range of risk elements. Governance of risk (policies, legislation, and organizational arrangements) still focuses largely on preparing to respond to the hazards and planning for recovery. This leaves largely unattended the vulnerability component of risk, which is the only component on which change can be effected. Governance arrangements, risk assessments, early warning systems, and other institutional and technical capacities still concentrate on natural hazards and this is the main change that remains to be substantively addressed.
Stakeholder and Public Involvement in Risk Governance
Ortwin Renn
2015, 6(1): 8-20. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0037-6
Stakeholder involvement has been a major requirement for effective, efficient, and fair risk governance. Since risk management includes uncertain outcomes that affect different parts of the population to different degrees it is essential to integrate the knowledge, values, and interests of stakeholders into the risk policy making process. The article provides insights into how to structure and organize stakeholder participation and how to cope with the challenges of complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. For each of the three challenges there is a need for specific input from stakeholders. The article describes these requirements and explains the formats that have been tested for providing this input to the risk governance process.
Climate Change’s Role in Disaster Risk Reduction’s Future: Beyond Vulnerability and Resilience
Ilan Kelman, JC Gaillard, Jessica Mercer
2015, 6(1): 21-27. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0038-5
A seminal policy year for development and sustainability occurs in 2015 due to three parallel processes that seek long-term agreements for climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals, and disaster risk reduction. Little reason exists to separate them, since all three examine and aim to deal with many similar processes, including vulnerability and resilience. This article uses vulnerability and resilience to explore the intersections and overlaps amongst climate change, disaster risk reduction, and sustainability. Critiquing concepts such as “return to normal” and “double exposure” demonstrate how separating climate change from wider contexts is counterproductive. Climate change is one contributor to disaster risk and one creeping environmental change amongst many, and not necessarily the most prominent or fundamental contributor. Yet climate change has become politically important, yielding an opportunity to highlight and tackle the deep-rooted vulnerability processes that cause “multiple exposure” to multiple threats. To enhance resilience processes that deal with the challenges, a prudent place for climate change would be as a subset within disaster risk reduction. Climate change adaptation therefore becomes one of many processes within disaster risk reduction. In turn, disaster risk reduction should sit within development and sustainability to avoid isolation from topics wider than disaster risk. Integration of the topics in this way moves beyond expressions of vulnerability and resilience towards a vision of disaster risk reduction’s future that ends tribalism and separation in order to work together to achieve common goals for humanity.
The Role of Public Health Within the United Nations Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction
Virginia Murray, Amina Aitsi-Selmi, Kevin Blanchard
2015, 6(1): 28-37. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0036-7
This article explores the role of public health systems before, during, and after disasters, particularly within the scope of the United Nations Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. It also examines the role of scientific and technological developments in assisting with improving the resilience of public health professionals and the communities they work in. In addition, it explores how the wide-ranging activities in public health have already contributed to the improved management of disasters and a decrease in associated risks. The article identifies areas of synergy in five key areas of recent policy and practice in public health (the health systems approach, risk assessments, the WHO/UNISDR/HPA Disaster Risk Management fact sheets, chronic disease and disasters, and mental health impacts following disasters) and makes suggestions based on lessons identified from the previous (2005) global disaster risk reduction framework. In particular, we advocate the use of scientific evidence that addresses health and disaster risk simultaneously to increase the effectiveness of policy and practice in disaster risk reduction, health, and public health.
Children with Disabilities and Disaster Risk Reduction: A Review
Steve Ronoh, JC Gaillard, Jay Marlowe
2015, 6(1): 38-48. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0042-9
Children with disabilities are often excluded from disaster risk reduction (DRR) initiatives and, as a result, can experience amplified physical, psychological, and educational vulnerabilities. Research on children with disabilities during disasters is lacking, and their potential value in helping shape inclusive policies in DRR planning has been largely overlooked by both researchers and policymakers. This article highlights the existing research and knowledge gap. The review includes literature from two areas of scholarship in relation to disasters—children, and people with disabilities—and provides a critique of the prevailing medical, economic, and social discourses that conceptualize disability and associated implications for DRR. The article analyzes the different models in which disability has been conceptualized, and the role this has played in the inclusion or exclusion of children with disabilities in DRR activities and in determining access to necessary resources in the face of disaster. Finally, the study explores possible pathways to studying the contribution and involvement of children with disabilities in DRR.
Disaster Risk Reduction Efforts in the Greater Horn of Africa
Marie-Ange Baudoin, Tsegay Wolde-Georgis
2015, 6(1): 49-61. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0041-x
This article assesses the current state of disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA), and focuses on interventions and policies to mitigate hydrometeorological risks. The research analyzes, as main case study, the program “Regional Climate Prediction and Risk Reduction in the Greater Horn of Africa” funded by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID OFDA) in the early 2000 that targeted risk preparedness. The research method combines a desk review of relevant documents and research papers with surveys and interviews directed to key proponents of DRR across the GHA. Results highlight current strengths and weaknesses in the way DRR is implemented in the GHA. Significant improvements in the climate-forecasting capabilities in the GHA since the 2000s are acknowledged, but the practice of DRR remains technology driven and impacts on the ground are limited. The key findings highlight the significant communication gaps that exist between the producers of climate information and their end users, the communities at risk. The article urges the establishment of bridges that connect climate experts, policymakers, and representatives of the local communities, and for the implementation of a feedback loop from forecast users to their producers, in order to strengthen risk resilience across the GHA.
Evaluating Land Use and Emergency Management Plans for Natural Hazards as a Function of Good Governance: A Case Study from New Zealand
Wendy Saunders, Emily Grace, James Beban, David Johnston
2015, 6(1): 62-74. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0039-4
Plan evaluation is of utmost importance as a function of good governance. It provides a means to improve the institutional basis for implementing land use controls, provides an important opportunity to improve future plans to reduce risk, and improves the vision for sustainable development and management. This article provides an overview of the methods and findings of a plan evaluation project undertaken in New Zealand. The project analyzed 99 operative plans, provided in-depth analysis of ten plans, and included a capability and capacity study of councils. This is the first time all operative plans in New Zealand have had their natural hazard provisions assessed in this manner. The information provides an important baseline for future policy improvements, and a basis for future research and policy directions. The project found that, while New Zealand land use plans appear to be improving over time, there are still opportunities for improvement. These include improving linkages between objectives, policies, and rules within land use plans; and strengthening the linkages between land use and emergency management plans. The largest challenge is the accessibility, understanding of, and updating of hazard information.
Iterative Factors Favoring Collaboration for Interorganizational Resilience: The Case of the Greater Montréal Transportation Infrastructure
Marie-Christine Therrien, Stéphane Beauregard, Anais Valiquette-L'Heureux
2015, 6(1): 75-86. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0044-7
Between members of a network, interorganizational resilience is favored by effective collaboration and coordination during a crisis. The quality of that collaboration depends on various iterative factors present between these organizations before the occurrence of a crisis. We find that these factors are iterative since collaboration factors follow a mutually reinforcing cycle: collaboration within a crisis management network is conditioned by a general agreement, which is in turn conditioned by the extent to which the institutions coordinate themselves prior to crisis. We evaluated the factors that promote collaboration between public and private organizations that manage the Greater Montréal transportation infrastructure. These factors are based on adaptive management processes such as mutual agreements, common organizational culture, knowledge and financial resources, levers of power, regulations, and pressure. Crisis management coordination represents the ability to build and assess the effectiveness of common response plans to risks to which they are exposed. We show how these processes vary depending on the links between private and public organizations.
The Emergence of a Globalized System for Disaster Risk Management and Challenges for Appropriate Governance
Steven J. Jensen, Shirley Feldmann-Jensen, David M. Johnston, Nancy A. Brown
2015, 6(1): 87-93. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0043-8
Disaster risk management (DRM) is undergoing noteworthy changes, reflecting the broader shifts in global and local levels of governance. At the global level two significant changes are of interest: (1) the shift from monolithic structures of global governance to a wide range of organizations that can be brought together for specific purposes and (2) the emergence of a globalized system of DRM, with technological, organizational, and institutional capacities enhancing DRM’s ability as a unit in near real time across the globe. At the local level there is an increase in ability to govern and develop creative solutions for complex problems that follow rapid urbanization. The importance of getting the global–local interface to work in tandem has been highlighted by recent hazard events, such as the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. From a broad view of global and local shifts, a strategic role is becoming clearer at the national level for enhancing the relationships between the global and local levels. Through the influence of a globalized system of DRM, the local level can significantly improve its capacity without the heavy investment that might have been required to develop these capacities in isolation. One key to achieving this is a diffusion of DRM higher education, supported by an enhanced system of information flow.
Shades of Chaos: Lessons Learned About Lessons Learned About Forecasting El Niño and Its Impacts
Michael H. Glantz
2015, 6(1): 94-103. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0045-6
The troubled forecast of El Niño’s onset in 2014 requires an explanation as well as an open dialogue with the user community that depends on such an important forecast. A review of the forecasts on the Internet reflects two different perceptions about what transpired. The forecast community suggests they got it right, while the popular media suggests forecasters got it wrong. Why such a gap? The major El Niño that was alluded to by several organizations did not materialize when or even as expected. A science-fed media frenzy took place about an event considered in retrospect to have been an unusual borderline (weak) El Niño event, “trickiest ever to forecast.” That is understandable, as the science of El Niño is still on a learning curve. But it suggests that the forecasting of El Niño’s onset is still in an experimental phase and not yet operational. Forecasting its onset (as a specific event) should be separated from forecasting its behavior and impacts (as a process) once the onset has been assured. Whenever a forecast is made, someone is responding to it. Therefore, such a distinction is necessary for the benefit of those societies and economic sectors affected by El Niño.