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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). This information is then used to either inform building codes, help in the design of new infrastructure projects, decide which livelihoods should be supported, or educate people through disaster awareness programmes, for example. However, with the altered frequency and magnitude of some hazards, as well as the changing patterns of risk, vulnerability and exposure due to climate change, it is important that any new information drawn from meteorologists, climatologists and those conducting vulnerability and capacity assessments about these changes must be triangulated with both the historical record and with more recent trends experienced by communities.

Disaster risk managers can then use this information to design enhanced infrastructure, public awareness programmes, and/or livelihoods support approaches that would otherwise risk being redundant, even dangerous, if not based on knowledge about potentially shifting disaster risks. In many places, the information available from different sources about the impacts of climate change will be uncertain and incomplete. Nonetheless, given a constantly changing climate, it is important to conduct such climate smart disaster risk assessments on a regular basis in order to capture the latest information and to ensure interventions are based the most up-to-date knowledge.

Recommended reading

UNISDR Briefing Note 2 - Adaptation to climate change by reducing disaster risks: country practices and lessons
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) 2009
With the threat of increased disasters from climate change, many countries are already taking steps to reduce their vulnerability to weather and climatic hazards. This Briefing Note reports on case studies of eight countries where nat...
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