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
occur. And given their frequency, this awareness is unlikely to fade. However, as they affect mainly low-income households and communities, small businesses and local infrastructure rather than strategic political and economic interests, they are less likely to catalyse an increased imperative for disaster risk management at the national level (UNISDR, 2011a

UNISDR. 2011a,Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Revealing Risk, Redefining Development, Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR.. .
). At the same time, opportunities to manage risks are often severely constrained at the local level.
7.4 In search of the scoop
Media interest in disasters is transient, and reporting on disaster causes and impacts can reinforce the perception of disasters as exogenous to development.
The world is changing rapidly as connectivity increases and global television, the Internet and social media become all-pervasive. Images of disasters occurring anywhere in the world are now transmitted and disseminated globally in real time. Similarly, disaster impacts themselves ripple through global supply and value chains. A more global awareness of risk would seem to be emerging that is not necessarily grounded in the
experience of disasters in particular places. This global risk awareness has been strengthened by the threat of catastrophic climate change to the extent that disaster risk has been increasingly portrayed as synonymous with climate change.
However, the global media focuses on major disaster events rather than the underlying processes and drivers that generate and accumulate disaster risks. Like resources for the disaster risk management sector, media coverage of and interest in disasters is transient: it spikes when major events occur, for example following the Indian Ocean tsunamis in 2004 and the East Japanese earthquake in 2011, but it falls silent between events (Box 7.3).
Against this backdrop, while the global media can increase risk awareness, it may tend to reinforce the perception of disasters as exogenous events, thus dissimulating and veiling the drivers through which the development paradigm generates and accumulates risk. In addition, while these drivers do become visible through extensive disasters, the resulting risk awareness is largely limited to the local level.
Box 7.3 Disaster mortality and the media
The space dedicated to mortality in the media is not proportional to the number of deaths that actually occur (Bomlitz and Brezis, 2008

Bomlitz, Larisa J. and Mayer Brezis. 2008,Misrepresentation of health risks by mass media, Journal of Public Health, Vol. 30, No. 2: 202-204.. .
). Mortality associated with illicit drugs, motor accidents, toxic agents and homicide are overrepresented (Frost et al., 1997

Frost, A.R, C.P. Schofield, S.A. Beaulah, T.T. Mottram, J.A. Lines and C.M. Wathes. 1997,A review of livestock monitoring and the need for integrated systems, Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, Vol. 17, Issue 2: 139-159.. .
), as are hazards such as SARS and bioterrorism. In contrast, more prevalent mortality factors such as AIDS, physical inactivity and smoking are under-represented (Bomlitz and Brezis, 2008

Bomlitz, Larisa J. and Mayer Brezis. 2008,Misrepresentation of health risks by mass media, Journal of Public Health, Vol. 30, No. 2: 202-204.. .

In general, the media tends to overlook creeping changes (Glantz, 1999

Glantz, Michael. 1999,Creeping Environmental Problems and Sustainable Development in the Aral Sea Basin, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.. .
) even though the threats posed by environmental change such as biodiversity loss, climate change, desertification, stratospheric ozone depletion, tropical deforestation, mangrove and coral destruction, soil erosion, soil and water pollution, overfishing, invasive species (Meadows et al., 1972

Meadows, Donella H., Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers and William W. Behrens III. 1972,The Limits to Growth, A report for The Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind. New York: Universe Books.. .
; Turner, 2008

Turner, Graham M. 2008,A comparison of The Limits to Growth with 30 years of reality, Global Environmental Change, Vol. 18, Issue 3 (August): 397-411.. .
; Randers, 2008

Randers, Jorgen. 2008,Global collapse—Fact or fiction? Futures, Vol, 40, Issue 10: 853-864.. .
and Rockstrm et al., 2009) and other global drivers may increase disaster risk to catastrophic levels. These incremental changes go unnoticed until they pass a threshold and quickly lead to changes in the environment or are revealed by a disaster (Maskrey, 1999

Maskrey, Andrew. 1999,Reducing Global Disasters, In Natural Disaster Management, J. Ingleton, ed. Leicester.. .
). Only then does the media pay attention.
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