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

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1.4 The limits of control
In recent years, a better understanding of the role of vulnerability and exposure has begun to take shape, suggesting that development creates disaster risk. Yet, disaster risk management practice did not adapt.
It is fitting that Colombia, one of the first countries to create a visible disaster risk management sector in 1989, should also be one of the first to identify the limits of an approach to disaster risk reduction based on the disaster management cycle.
In 2010 and 2011 Colombia experienced a strong but not exceptional El Nio Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event. The country did not experience a single, large disaster, but thousands of smaller-scale extensive events that occurred over an 18-month period and affected 93 per cent of the country’s 1,041 municipalities (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.. .
), causing over US$6 billion in direct economic losses. These disasters questioned the effectiveness of the way disaster risk management was being practised, and they revealed an underlying reality of disaster risk accumulation, exacerbated by the displacement and insecurity associated with ongoing civil conflict and by investments in reconstruction that had sometimes rebuilt and reproduced disaster risks. In 2012, Colombia initiated reforms and passed new legislation (Box 1.3).
Most countries would have been seriously challenged to manage the relentless series of
disasters that occurred in Colombia in 2010 and 2011. However, while the Colombian case is idiosyncratic, it unveiled cracks and fissures in the way disaster risk reduction has been approached and organized in other countries and regions.
Research highlighting that risk is endogenous to social, economic, territorial and environmental change has been published since the 1970s and 1980s (Zobler, 1976

Zobler, Leonard. 1976,Review of Natural Hazards: Local, National, Global by Gilbert F, White. Geographical Review, Vol. 66, No. 2, pp. 247-249.. .
; Quarantelli, 1978

Quarantelli, Enrico Louis. 1978,Disasters: Theory and Research, Sage.. .
; Davis, 1978; Hewitt, 1983

Hewitt, Kenneth, ed. 1983,Interpretations of Calamity from the Viewpoint of Human Ecology, The Risks and Hazard Series I. Allan & Unwin. Hewitt, Kenneth. 2013. Disasters in ‘development’ contexts: Contradictions and options for a preventive approach. Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies 5(2), Art. #91.. .
; Watts, 1983

Watts, Michael. 1983,On the poverty of theory: natural hazards research in context, In Interpretations of Calamity from the Viewpoint of Human Ecology, Hewitt, Kenneth, ed. The Risks and Hazard Series I. Allan & Unwin.. .
; Maskrey, 1989

Maskrey, Andrew. 1989,Disaster Mitigation: A Community-Based Approach, Development Guidelines No. 3. Oxfam.. .
) and has gradually permeated academic literature (Wisner et al., 2003

Wisner, Ben, Piers Blaikie, Terry Cannon and Ian Davis. 2003,At Risk: Natural Hazards, People’s vulnerability and disasters, 2nd Edition.. .
; Lavell, 2003

Lavell, Allan. 2003,Regional Programme for Risk Management in Central America, Ideas and notions relating to concept and practice. With the collaboration of CEPREDENAC and UNDP.. .
; Weber, 2006

Weber, Elke. 2006,Experience-based and description-based perceptions of long-term risk: Why global warming does not scare us (yet), Climatic Change, Vol. 77, Issue 1-2 (July): 103-120.. .
; Cannon, 2008

Cannon, Terry. 2008,Reducing People’s Vulnerability to Natural Hazards, Research Paper No. 2008/34. UNU-WIDER.. .
; Aragón-Durand, 2009

Aragón-Durand, Fernando de Jesús. 2009,Unpacking the Social Construction of ´Natural´ Disaster Through Policy Discourses and Institutional Responses in Mexico: The Case of Chalco Valley’s Floods, State of Mexico, Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Development Planning Unit. The Bartlett, University College London.. .
; Cutter, 2014

Cutter, Susan. 2014,Building Disaster Resilience: Steps Toward Sustainability, Challenges in Sustainability, Vol. 1, Issue 2: 72-79.. .
; GAR 13 papervan Niekerk, 2014

GAR13 Reference van Niekerk, Dewald. 2014,Retrospective Assessment of Progress in Disaster Risk Governance against the HFA, Input Paper prepared for the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR..
Click here to view this GAR paper.
) and science research agendas (ICSU-LAC, 2010

ICSU-LAC (International Council for Science, Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean). 2010,Understanding and Managing Risk Associated with Natural Hazards: A Comprehensive Approach for Latin America and the Caribbean, Science for a better life: Developing Regional Scientific Programmes in Priority Areas for Latin America and the Caribbean.. .
; IRDR, 2013

IRDR (Integrated Research on Disaster Risk). 2013,Strategic Plan 2013-2017, Beijing.. .
). All the evidence assembled in successive editions of the GAR (UNISDR, 2009a

UNISDR. 2009a,Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Risk and Poverty in a Changing Climate, Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR.. .
, 2011a, 2013a) has confirmed how disasters are manifestations of unresolved development problems (Hagman, 1984

Hagman, G. 1984,Prevention better than cure: report on human and environmental disasters in the Third World, Stockholm: Swedish Red Cross.. .
) and are thus outcome-based indicators of a skewed, unsustainable development paradigm based on unlimited growth, inequality and overconsumption. Exposure and vulnerability as well as hazard itself (through climate change and environmental degradation) are socially constructed through underlying risk drivers, including globalized economic development, poverty and inequality, badly planned and managed urban development, environmental degradation and climate change.
Emerging patterns and trends of disaster loss and risk reflect the operation of these drivers. In particular, increases in extensive disaster loss and
As highlighted in this chapter, the creation of the Colombian National System for Disaster Prevention and Response (SNPAD) in 1989 (World Bank, 2012

World Bank. 2012,Analysis of Disaster Risk Management in Colombia: A Contribution to the Creation of Public Policies, Coordinators and Editors: Ana Campos G., Niels Holm-Nielsen, Carolina Díaz G., Diana M. Rubiano V., Carlos R. Costa P., Fernando Ramírez C. and Eric Dickson. The World Bank and GFDRR, Washington, D.C.. .
) marked the emergence of a structured approach to disaster risk governance. However, while this approach led to reductions in disaster mortality, economic loss has trended upwards over the last 40 years (Figure 1.7), revealing unaddressed gaps and challenges (Cardona et al., 2005

Cardona, Omar Darío., Lavell, Allan., Mansilla, Elizabeth and Moreno, Álvaro. 2005,Avances en las estrategias de desarrollo institucional y sostenibilidad financiera de la gestión del riesgo de desastres en América Latina y el Caribe, Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo y Diálogo Regional de Política. Mayo de 2005. Washington, D.C.. .
Box 1.3 Moving from consequence to cause in Colombia
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