Thursday, 8 December 2011

DISASTER RISK AND CLIMATE CHANGE

By: Maggie .M. Mwape
Disaster risk and climate change are two threats to human well-being that adversely reinforce each other. Disaster risk is an intrinsic characteristic of human society, arising from the combination of natural and human factors and subject to exacerbation or reduction by human agency.

While the adverse impacts of climate change on society may increase disaster risk, disasters themselves erode environmental and social resilience, and thus increase vulnerability to climate change. Although the relationship between climate change and extreme events remains uncertain, it is difficult to distinguish variability and changes in climate-related hazards from the impacts of long-term climate change.

Improved knowledge on the linkages between extreme weather events and climate change is needed and can facilitate strategies to reduce vulnerability. Yet it is increasingly acknowledged that both preparatory actions and responses to climate variability and long-term climate change may often be similar.
Consequently, there are growing calls for a common framework for approaching the reduction of vulnerability to disasters, climate variability and long-term climate change. Disasters have an enormous impact on human development. Globally, events such as earthquakes, floods, and droughts contribute to tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of injuries, and billions of dollars in economic losses each year.

In developing countries, disasters represent a major source of risk for the poor and can potentially destroy development gains and accumulated wealth. The findings of this report suggest a timely need to undertake a more thorough assessment of the role that disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation can play in minimizing threats to human security

Although the relationship between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is increasingly recognized by researchers, policy makers and practitioners within both communities, the two communities are yet to develop coordinated efforts towards reducing climate change risks and vulnerability, which includes increasing the capacity to cope with and adapt to rapid changes, complex emergencies, and considerable uncertainty about the future.  
Reference:
Report 2008:3 Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation and Human Security
A Commissioned Report for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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