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

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damage provide empirical evidence that disaster risk is an endogenous indicator of failed or skewed development, of unsustainable economic and social processes, and of ill-adapted societies; socially constructed problems driven by underlying processes whose neglect manifests as a predictable—and always tragic—kata-strophe.
The HFA certainly created space for addressing the underlying risk drivers in Strategic Goal 1, the integration of disaster risk reduction into sustainable development policy and planning, as well as Priority for Action 4, which aims to reduce the underlying risk factors. In other priorities for action, the HFA was equally incisive. In Priority for Action 1, for example, the HFA called upon governments to demonstrate the strong political determination required to promote and integrate disaster risk reduction into development programming. And in Priority for Action 2, it advised institutions dealing with urban development to provide information to the public on disaster reduction options prior to constructions, land purchase or land sale.
However, this has been the path less travelled in most countries. The HFA has more generally been approached through an underlying conception of disasters as externalities to be managed; as exogenous and unforeseen shocks that affect normally functioning economic systems and societies; as dis-astrum rather than kata-strophe (Lavell and Maskrey, 2014

Lavell, Allan and Andrew Maskrey. 2014,The future of disaster risk management, Environmental Hazards, Vol. 13, Issue 4, 2014.. .
). The slogan of the HFA advocates building resilience to disasters rather than building resilience in development.
Interpreting disasters as exogenous shocks lies at the root of the disaster management cycle, which—as its name implies—revolves around disasters as events. While the disaster management cycle was and still is seductive due to its simplicity and internal logic, it encouraged and justified the syncretic expansion of emergency management organizations into other aspects of disaster risk management, such as prevention,
reduction and recovery. Responsibilities for these other aspects, as described in the HFA and the preceding international frameworks, were merely added on to the governance arrangements for emergency management.
As such, disaster risk reduction continues to be principally understood and practised as disaster management and as a set of instrumental and administrative mechanisms to protect development against tangible external threats. Logically, if disaster risk is conceptualized as an exogenous threat, then instruments can be designed to protect against it. For example, terms like financial protection point towards protecting public finances against external threats, rather than recognizing that the way those finances are used either reduces or generates disaster risk. By definition, interpreting disaster risk in this way weakens responsibility and accountability for risk generation.
Ultimately, this approach to disaster risk reduction encapsulates a fundamental contradiction: it aims to protect the same development paradigm that generates risk in the first place. As such, if increased investments are made to protect development without addressing the underlying risk drivers at the same time, more and more effort will lead to diminishing returns and flagging progress. Disaster risk will continue to be generated faster than it can be reduced.
The HFA has generated an enormous investment in and commitment to disaster risk reduction by stakeholders at all levels, including national governments, municipal authorities, utility providers, non-governmental organizations, scientific and technical institutions, regional and international organizations, and the private sector. There have been numerous and sometimes spectacular successes in addressing specific risks, such as the dramatic reduction in tropical cyclone mortality in Bangladesh.
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