Reducing disaster impacts through systematic investments

Harvey Hill Manager, Climate Decision Support and Adaptation Unit, National Agroclimate Information Service, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canada,

John Wiener Research Associate, Environment and Society Program, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, United States, and Koko Warner Academic Officer, Head of Section, Institute for Environment and Human Security, United Nations University, Germany

This paper describes a method for reducing the economic risks associated with predictable natural hazards by enhancing the resilience of national infrastructure systems. The three-step generalised framework is described along with examples. Step one establishes economic baseline growth without the disaster impact. Step two characterises economic growth constrained by a disaster. Step three assesses the economy’s resilience to the disaster event when it is buffered by alterna- tive resiliency investments. The successful outcome of step three is a disaster-resistant core of infrastructure systems and social capacity more able to maintain the national economy and development post disaster. In addition, the paper considers ways to achieve this goal in data-limited environments. The method provides a methodology to address this challenge via the integration of physical and social data of different spatial scales into macroeconomic models. This supports the disaster risk reduction objectives of governments, donor agencies, and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Keywords: adaptation, adaptive capacity, climate, disaster, economic growth, geographic information systems (GIS), Hyogo, infrastructure systems, resiliency investment, risk reduction Introduction An increasing number of indicators have emerged in recent years that support the argument that climate change has already influenced the frequency and intensity of natural catastrophes (Hoeppe and Gurenko, 2006; Stern, 2006; Solomon et al., 2007). If the scientific global climate models are accurate, the present problems will be magnified in the near future, increasing the need for effective risk reduction (Warner et al., 2009a). These models suggest that one should expect: • a rise in the number and severity of atmospheric extreme events, such as bush fires, droughts, flash floods, hailstorms, heat waves, storm surges, tornados, and trop- ical and extra tropical cyclones, in many parts of the world, and; • more extensive impacts on economies, the environment and society due to weather- related disasters. Disasters, 2012, 36(2): 175−194.

Project under theme: Sustainable and Resilient Infrastrucuture

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