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Strengthening climate resilience

Integrating adaptation, disasters and development

There is now rapidly growing recognition that climate change threatens to both increase disaster risk and eliminate the chances of sustainable development as, by altering the frequency and magnitude of hazard events, it is inadvertently increasing and accentuating underlying issues of vulnerability and uncertainty. To date, practitioners and policy makers have been managing disaster risks across development sectors by reducing, transferring and sharing risk, as well as enhancing preparedness and response mechanisms. However, with ever more weather-related disasters taking place, those working on managing disaster risk are asking themselves how to integrate the added threats posed by climate change and consequently, what they need to do differently to ensure that they are able to protect development from disasters in a changing climate.

International agencies, civil society organisations and research institutions have begun analysing the key benefits and trade-offs of converging disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and development agendas. This is reflected in plans for a 2011 Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as a growing body of literature on the topic. One particular idea emerging as a result of this coalition is that of ‘climate smart disaster risk management’ – an approach to managing the impact of climate change on disaster risk that includes assessing and acting on the changes to the magnitude and frequency of hazards, preparing for elevated uncertainty, and tackling increasing vulnerability and its drivers.

Closing the gaps: disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change in developing countries
Bridge at night
C. Stowers / Panos Pictures
The International Commission on Climate Change and Development examines adaptation to climate change and its links with disaster risk reduction.The paper argues in poor countries adaptation is inseparable from development, where the capacity to manage risk determines progress. Adaptation is shaped by institutions at the local, national, and international levels; adaptive capacity at the local scale depends on developing capacity for adaptation at wider scales. The authors conclude with a number of recommendations on the way forward.

Climate-smart disaster risk management

Climate change is: (a) increasing the frequency and magnitude of some hazards (e.g. IPCC 2007 suggested that heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense); (b) accentuating existing vulnerability and creating new and patterns of exposure; (c) creating greater uncertainty and more surprise events. As always, care must be taken in generalising, for all these trends are highly variable across regions and countries. More . . .


Tackle changing disaster risks and uncertainties

At present, disaster risk managers tend to base decisions on what hazards and disasters have been experienced before in the historical record (whether conveyed through scientific monitoring and analysis or in a more community-based version, from what local people share). More . . .


Enhance adaptive capacity

Given the challenges posed by climate change, it is important that disaster risk management interventions help people to manage and create sustainable changes that will allow them to adapt over time, as well as protect them from disasters. More . . .


Address poverty and vulnerability and their structural causes

Disaster-related risks come not only from direct exposure to natural hazards, such as droughts or hurricanes, but also from the vulnerability of social and economic systems to the effects of these hazards. More . . .

Latest Additions

Policy arena disaster risk reduction or climate change adaptation: are we reinventing the wheel?
J. Mercer (ed) / United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2010
This paper explores the differences and similarities between Disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) through analysing climate-related DRR in Papua New Guinea (PNG) within the context of wider development pol...
Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction and Social Protection
M. Davies; K. Oswald; T. Mitchell / Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2009
This paper outlines linkages between climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and social protection. It starts by giving examples of the social dimensions of climate change and argues that understanding the intra-house...
Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies and Risk Management Practices: critical elements for adaptation to climate change
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) 2008
This paper presents the risk-related elements referred to in the Bali Action Plan, namely disaster reduction strategies and risk management including risk sharing and transfer mechanisms. The paper notes that disaster risk and the adv...

Strengthening Climate Resilience strengthens community resilience against natural disasters and climate change by supporting governments and civil society organisations with a new 'climate-smart' disaster risk management approach.

This project is managed by a consortium of Christian Aid, the Institute for Development Studies and Plan International



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