Disaster risk reduction: a decade of global effort comes home

As the international development community gears up to renew a global plan for improved ‘disaster risk reduction’ from 2015 (the ‘post-Hyogo’ framework), it is striking to reflect on how central the idea of disaster risk reduction has become in the development industry.  Boosted in no small measure by attention to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and in tandem with efforts at climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction has been a dominant theme over the past decade.  In my own world, it appears everywhere I look

– my wife’s job at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community is focussed on disaster risk reduction (radio interview in New Caledonia; TV interview in Wallis & Futuna), my brother is Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist at the World Bank, and this semester I’ve been back in Melbourne teaching the introductory class Natural Hazards and Human Vulnerability.  With almost 300 students, this is our first year, first semester portal to further study in geography and environmental science.  I introduce basic biophysical processes behind different hazards, analyse the spatial, economic, and social factors that affect peoples’ vulnerability, and review recent efforts at disaster response and risk reduction.  My family’s diverse efforts at awareness, training, capacity-building, institutional strengthening, and specific solutions, together with those of people and institutions around the world, are hopefully contributing in one way or another to improving the resilience of people to disasters, particularly the most vulnerable in developing nations.

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