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

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What is less clear is how much of this change will really address inequality, which, as discussed in Part III, permeates the underlying drivers of disaster risk. For example, globally it will be politically challenging to agree on equitable and sustainable levels of consumption. However, without such a consensus the risks of worsening inequality, disasters and conflict can only increase (Rockstrm et al., 2013).
Does this mean that sustainable development is unlikely to be achieved or even prove useful as a concept? Not necessarily. It may depend on a number of factors, including scale.
Risk is an integral part of human action and development, and it represents a potential threat as well as an opportunity. The social processes involved in its construction are directly related to past and existing development paradigms. Collective and individual perceptions and reactions to hazard and risk contexts as well as the values attached to disaster risk are constructed in these paradigms. To a large extent, values also determine the direction of future pathways that countries and societies take. These values and the associated assumptions shift constantly, sometimes overtly and abruptly, but mostly slowly,
usually remaining implicit rather than explicit and immediately visible.
At the global scale, change can be accelerated by massive shocks to the system that ripple across a significant number of countries and interest groups. The 2008 financial crisis and its fallout in the years since may be such a shock, even though some of the longer-term effects are yet to be seen. At the local scale, change may be more incremental but ultimately meaningful (GAR 13 paperPelling, 2014

GAR13 Reference Pelling, Mark (ed.). 2014,Pathways for Transformation: Disaster risk management to enhance development goals, Background Paper prepared for the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR..
Click here to view this GAR paper.
From that perspective, disasters themselves are powerful agents of change given that they liberate huge quantities of accumulated risk and energy. They have extraordinary power to reveal the multiple dimensions of past development malpractice and the underlying drivers of risk as well as potential levels of future loss and damage.
The existential importance of disasters, therefore, may be their ability to help people learn from the past to change the future. They can point to transformational principles to be incorporated
Box 13.2 Principal commitments from the UN Climate Summit
(Source: United Nations.12 )
In September 2014, 120 Heads of State and thousands of representatives from the private sector, academia, multilateral development organizations and NGOs convened in New York and made a number of high-visibility statements and commitments in support of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

For example, the investment and asset management community made commitments to increase climate-smart investment to US$500 billion by 2020 and to report on progress in the context of the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, while the finance industry committed to integrating disaster and climate risk into financial regulation beyond insurance and across public and private accounting through 1-in-100-year stress tests.

These commitments were made jointly and were fully endorsed by groups of governments, development banks, insurers, investors, regulators and relevant science institutions. The ambition of these pledges is significant because a number of them address critical nodes in the global financial and economic system that have the potential to become game changers.
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