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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. However, on balance, the impacts of climate change mean that due to increasing vulnerability, even regularly experienced hazards may cause more severe disasters. Some places may also see entirely new hazards, and others, those of an intensity or frequency not experienced before – such as the 2009 Australian heatwave. Climate change therefore poses considerable challenges for those battling to reduce the risks posed by current, let alone, future disasters. Put simply, current disaster risk management practices are not going to be sufficient, and a new ‘climate smart’ version of managing disaster risk must emerge.

Climate smart disaster risk management therefore is an inclusive concept which describes the additional elements of managing disaster risk that are needed in a changing climate. These elements fall into three categories: (a) tackle changing disaster risks and uncertainties’; (b) enhance adaptive capacity; (c) address poverty and vulnerability and their structural causes, which are discussed in the following sections.

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