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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.

Recommended reading

Disaster risk and climate change in Africa
F. B. Olorunfemi (ed) / Arid Lands Information Network 2010
Disaster risk and climate change – two of the greatest challenges currently facing humankind – adversely reinforce each other. In the coming decades, climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of na...
Scoping meeting for an IPCC special report on extreme events and disasters: managing the risks
V. Barros (ed); J. Jouzel (ed); A. Abdulla (ed) / Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2009
These proceedings compile the documentation used to inform the panel’s decision to undertake the special report on “Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation”. The...
UNISDR Briefing Note 1 - Climate change and disaster risk reduction
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) 2008
Climate change and disaster risk reduction (DRR) are closely linked. Increased extreme weather events in the future are likely to increase the number and scale of disasters while the existing methods and tools of DRR provide powerful ...
Convergence of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation
T. Mitchell; M. Van Aalst / PreventionWeb 2008
Development faces a growing threat from climate change. Yet despite the significant overlap, the respective agendas of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) have been left to evolve independently ...
From risk to resilience: Understanding the costs and benefits of disaster risk reduction under changing climatic conditions
M. Moench / Institute For Social And Environmental Transition 2008
This paper evaluates the costs and benefits of disaster risk reduction in the context of climate change through an analysis of case studies in India, Nepal and Pakistan. The paper focuses on water related disasters and the manner in w...
Climate adaptation as risk management: limits and lessons from disaster risk reduction
M. Pelling; L. Schipper / International Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change 2009
Adapting to climate change requires that risk management be integrated into development planning and practices. This paper identifies lessons and limits for climate change adaptation from disaster risk reduction. It recognises that ri...
Disaster risk management in a changing climate. Discussion paper prepared for the World Conference on Distaster Reduction on behalf of the Vulnerability and Adaptation Resource Group (VARG)
F. Sperling; F. Szekely / International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) 2005
Climate change is a reality, not a distant possibility in the future. Weather-related disasters are exerting an increasing toll on developing and developed countries, destroying lives and livelihoods and hampering development processe...
A climate risk management approach to disaster reduction and adaptation to climate change
United Nations Development Programme 2002
The relationship between climate change and security is a key concern among governments and international organisations. Security concerns include the potential for conflict over natural resources, population displacement, migration a...
Addressing the challenge: recommendations and quality criteria for linking disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change
J. Birkmann (ed); G. Tetzlaff (ed); K. Zentel (ed) / PreventionWeb 2007
Climate change is a fact and a threat to human society due to increases in temperature, variations in precipitation and intensive weather related extreme events. These call for the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation (CCA) and ...