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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

Summary for policymakers. Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
M. Parry (ed); O. Canziani (ed); J. Palutikof (ed) / Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007
This is a scientific assessment of the present impacts of climate change on natural and human systems, and the capacity of these systems to adapt to vulnerability. It concerns the relationship between observed climate change and recen...
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...
Adaptation to climate change: linking disaster risk reduction and insurance
K. Warner; N. Ranger; S. Surminski / International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) 2010
Development gains are increasingly at risk from climate change among other pressures. Adverse changes are already being observed in the amount, intensity, frequency and type of precipitation, resulting in drought, floods and tropical ...
Managing climate risk: integrating adaptation into World Bank Group operations
M. Van Aalst / World Bank 2006
With impacts of climate change already affecting World Bank projects and programmes in a wide range of sectors, this report aims to integrate comprehensive climate risk management into all of the Bank’s activities. But how? ...
Local voices, global choices: for successful disaster risk reduction (DRR). A collection of case studies about community-centre partnerships for DRR
S. Moss / ProVention Consortium 2009
Local Voices Global Choices is an interagency initiative supported by Action aid, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, Global Network of CSOs for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), International federation of the Red Cross, Oxfam, Practical ...
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...
Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the Pacific: the challenge of integration
A. Gero; K. Méheux; D. Dominey-Howes / University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australian Tsunami Research Centre & Natural Hazards Research Laboratory (ATRC-NHRL) 2010
This paper presents the integration of DRR and CCA initiatives in the pacific community, and draws upon the knowledge and insight of key stakeholders from multiple backgrounds to develop an understanding of the current status of ...
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...