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

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Chapter 13
13.5 Reforming governance to
manage disaster risks
While countries will continue to require a dedicated and specialized disaster management sector to prepare for and respond to disasters, managing disaster and climate risks in development requires a new approach. It requires strengthened governance arrangements in sectors and territories to minimize the discounting of future risk as well as transparency and accountability as risks are generated, transferred and retained.
The continued need for a specialized disaster management sector
The governance arrangements required to manage disasters are not the same as those required to manage risks. The management of disasters as events—in particular disaster warning, preparation and response—is a specialized area of governance for which, with important caveats, many of the institutional and legislative arrangements developed over the last thirty years or so are appropriate.
Therefore, countries will continue to require a dedicated and specialized sector to manage disasters, emergencies and other incidents, including maritime, aviation, industrial and environmental accidents. To the extent that risk levels continue to grow, there will be more rather than less demand for specialized disaster management organizations. In other words, countries should continue to develop their capacities for disaster management, including the specialized professional skills, institutional arrangements, policies and legislation required for this purpose.
Enhanced sector and territorial governance arrangements to manage disaster risks
In contrast, managing disaster risks makes it necessary to strengthen sector and territorial governance arrangements. Rather than specialized arrangements for disaster risk governance, the key question is how governance in general can be
enhanced to minimize the discounting of future risk as well as transparency and accountability as risks are generated, transferred and retained (Wilkinson et al., 2014

Wilkinson, E., E. Comba and K. Peters. 2014,Disaster Risk Governance: Unlocking Progress and Reducing Risk, UNDP, BCPR and ODI.. .
; UNISDR, 2011a

UNISDR. 2011a,Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Revealing Risk, Redefining Development, Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR.. .
; Lassa, 2010

Lassa, Jonatan A. 2010,Institutional Vulnerability and Governance of Disaster Risk Reduction: Macro, Meso and Micro Scale Assessment (With Case Studies from Indonesia), Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades Doktor Ingenieur (Dr.Ing.) der Hohen Landwirtschaftlichen Fakultät der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Bonn. Vorgelegt am 24 November 2010.. .
This implies the need to relax and dispel the notion that disaster risk management has to be a sector and to shift the focus towards weaving risk management into development. Managing disaster risks should cease to be seen as an exotic practice for which responsibility has been assigned to a specialized sector (Gall et al., 2014c

Gall, Melanie, Susan Cutter and Khai Nguyen. 2014c,Transformative Development and Disaster Risk Management, 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. Section on the Future of Disaster Risk Management. Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, University of South Carolina, May 2014.. .
). Instead, it should become a normal part of day-to-day development planning and decision-making across all development sectors. The differentiation between risk governance and development governance is a false one and contributes to the current situation where the costs of risk generation and accumulation are externalities that remain hidden and unaccounted for, limiting accountability at all levels.
This has several implications. Firstly, the capacity of countries to manage their disaster risks will depend on the overall quality and strength of governance. This implies that it is highly unlikely that countries where corruption is rife, where there is no freedom of the press, where there is civil or military conflict, or where there is little respect for human rights in general will be able to manage their disaster risks effectively (Alexander and Davis, 2012

Alexander, David and Ian Davis. 2012,Disaster risk reduction: An alternative viewpoint, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Vol. 2, pp. 1-5.. .
). The governance of disaster risk is never autonomous from the quality of governance in general. Strengthening the quality of overall governance is therefore critical to strengthening the governance of disaster risk.
Secondly, it implies that the priority given to managing disaster risk will be closely associated with the priority given to addressing the underlying risk drivers. The political priority accorded to reducing poverty and inequality, protecting and restoring biodiversity, and planning and managing sustainable urban development will largely determine the political priority assigned to reducing disaster risk.
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