Why money can’t buy disaster resilience

Every year disasters take lives, cause significant damage, inhibit development and contribute to conflict and forced migration. Unfortunately, the trend is an upward one. At the end of May 2017, policy-makers and disaster management experts from over 180 countries gathered in Cancun, Mexico, to discuss ways to counter this trend.

Florian Roth and I took the opportunity to reflect on the root causes of natural disasters during his recent two-month Swiss National Science Foundation funded stint as a visiting scholar with AUSCCER. These conversations became an article written with Tim Prior.

We argue that understanding social vulnerability is ultimately about understanding the particular geographical and social contexts in which it manifests. What drives social vulnerability in one place may play no role in another. Making inferences about disaster vulnerability based on aggregated economic characteristics often leads to misleading conclusions.

A global community that is dedicated to reducing disaster losses over the next decade therefore must address the social root causes of disaster. If not, the lofty goals of the Sendai Framework will remain elusive.

The full article is available on The Conversation Global.

(Feature image: Ishinomaki one year after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, schmid91/flickr, CC BY-SA)

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