Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015
Making development sustainable: The future of disaster risk management


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Part II - Chapter 7
7.3 Experiencing disaster risk
Gaining risk awareness is a dynamic process which is highly dependent on disaster experience. It therefore differs across time and space.
Risk awareness and understanding would seem to be fundamentally experiential. For example, Japan has the highest level of hazard exposure in the world and has been dealing with repeated
disasters for millennia. Shaped by that experience, risk awareness is high amongst citizens and government authorities alike, research into risk identification and estimation is a priority, and risk knowledge permeates disaster risk management strategies and policies at all levels. Sustainability depends on sound disaster risk management.
In contrast, the disaster risk awareness of households, businesses and governments in countries with low levels of hazard exposure and infrequent disasters is likely to lack that essential experiential quality. Irrespective of public information on hazards, a strong political and economic imperative for disaster risk management is far less likely to emerge in those countries (Neumayer et al., 2012

Neumayer, Eric., Thomas Pl├╝mper and Fabian Barthel. 2012,The Political Economy of Natural Disaster Damage, February 2012.. .
).
At the global level, disaster risk awareness is not systematically assessed, and it is difficult to measure how it has evolved since the adoption of the HFA or the declaration of the IDNDR. However, the number of nationally and internationally reported disasters has shown a strong upward trend since 1990 (Figure 7.2), which could indicate that more people have experienced manifestations of risk first-hand.
Large intensive disasters with major social and economic impacts certainly generate risk awareness, at least in the short term, and may catalyse change. As noted in Chapter 1, the impetus to reform risk governance arrangements often surfaces in the wake of large disasters. This change is not limited to governments. For example, the impact of the 2011 disasters in Japan and Thailand on global supply chains (UNISDR, 2013a

UNISDR. 2013a,Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: From Shared Risk to Shared Value: the Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR.. .
) certainly led to raised awareness of and concern with disaster risk in the private sector.
This awareness (Box 7.2) continues to grow, and disaster and climate-related risks now figure
(Source: UNISDR with data from the HFA Monitor.)
Figure 7.1 Progress in risk awareness
HFA progress reports show that countries have made significant progress in this area. However, progress in general is lower than the average across the various priorities for action (Figure 7.1). With notable exceptions, citizens, businesses and other stakeholders in most countries rarely have access to risk information before they make investment decisions or undertake property transactions. As discussed below, there has been explosive growth in the production of risk information and in collaboration between scientific and technical institutions, but too little of this information ends up in the hands of users in a format that can inform decisions (CDKN, 2014

CDKN (Climate and Development Knowledge Network). 2014,Risk-informed decision-making: An agenda for improving risk assessments under HFA2, CDKN Guide, April 2014.. .
).
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