The CSS Blog Network

A New View of Disaster Risk and Reduction: An Interview with Roger Pulwarty, Senior Scientist at NOAA

Image Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Environmental Change and Security Program’s New Security Beat on 21 October 2019.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction recently released the fifth edition of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR19). The report highlights the increasingly complex interaction between hazards, and provides an update on how risk and risk reduction are understood in practice. GAR19 also highlights how the latest Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) framework integrates into global goals such as the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To better understand the scope and significance of this report, New Security Beat sat down with Roger Pulwarty, Senior Scientist at NOAA, and a lead author of the GAR19.

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Selected Targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

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This graphic outlines data related to four of the seven targets set out in the 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), which seeks to highlight the interdependencies between sustainable development, human development and disaster risk reduction (DRR). To find out about global disaster risk reduction efforts and more, see Tim Prior and Florian Roth’s recent CSS Analyses in Security Policy, ‘Resilience to Disaster Is No Small Measure’.

Understanding the Root Causes of Natural Disasters

Image courtesy of schmid91/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published on The Conversation on 27 June 2017.

Every year disasters take lives, cause significant damage, inhibit development and contribute to conflict and forced migration. Unfortunately, the trend is an upward one.

In May 2017, policy-makers and disaster management experts from over 180 countries gathered in Cancun, Mexico, to discuss ways to counter this trend.

In the middle of the Cancun summit, news arrived that large parts of Sri Lanka were devastated by floods and landslides, killing at least 150 and displacing almost half a million people.

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Disaster Diplomacy for Asia and the Middle East

Cyclone Pam nears Vanuatu

Courtesy Harrison Tran/flickr

This article was originally published by the Middle East Institute (MEI) on 16 June 2016.

What is Disaster Diplomacy?

Disaster diplomacy investigates how and why disaster-related activities (pre-disaster and post-disaster) influence conflict and cooperation. [1]

Planning, preparation, and damage reduction are part of pre-disaster activities, which are termed ‘disaster risk reduction,’ focusing on addressing the root causes of disasters. Those root causes are, fundamentally, power and politics (particularly as related to resource allocation), societal sectors gaining from others’ vulnerability, and preference for short-term profit over long-term safety. Post-disaster activities refer to response, reconstruction, and recovery.

There have been numerous case studies of disaster diplomacy, covering various countries, regions and time periods, as well as a wide array of hazards—from environmental phenomena, such as earthquakes and floods, to technology-related incidences, such as train crashes and poisonings. The case studies have investigated many types of diplomacy: bilateralism, multilateralism, intergovernmental and international organizations, nongovernmental entities, and international relations conducted by non-sovereign jurisdictions such as provinces or cities (often called para-diplomacy, proto-diplomacy, and micro-diplomacy). The case studies also encompass many forms of conflict, ranging from interstate war and internal insurrections to the absence of diplomatic relations, frosty interactions, and political disagreements.

Across all case studies, no examples have been found where disaster-related activities have created new diplomatic initiatives. To be sure, disaster-related activities can serve as a catalyst for pre-existing diplomatic endeavors. In such instances, cultural links, informal or secret diplomatic negotiations, interactions in multilateral organizations, trade connections, or business and economic development can provide the conditions conducive to spurring disaster diplomacy.

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The Gulf Oil Spill: What We’re Reading

If It Was My Home

Screenshot of oil spill overlay of Zurich area, ifitwasmyhome.com

If you’re keeping track of the Deepwater Horizon/Gulf of Mexico oil spill, check out these links:

  • David McCandless over at Information is Beautiful has another visual. This one gives visual context to the Deepwater spill, Exxon Valdez and Amoco Candiz spills along with world oil consumption and remaining proven oil reserves.
  • US broadcaster ABC delves into BP’s safety record, while The Boston Globe’s blog The Big Picture brings the catastrophe into focus (some of the images such as the bird mired in oil are sure to become iconic).

How they came up with that, only God knows. Literally.

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