- Documents and publications
Disaster risk reduction and the limits of truisms: Improving the knowledge and practice interface
This article utilizes the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) as an illustrative case to identify and interrogate ten selected truisms, from across the social and natural sciences, that have been prevalent in shaping disaster risk reduction (DRR) research and practice. Some of the practical guidelines laid out during policymaking conceal oversimplified or unsubstantiated claims and assumptions, what are referred to as ‘truisms’, which, if not properly addressed, may jeopardize the long-term goal to reduce disaster risks. Thus far, much DRR research has focused on ways to bridge the gap between science and practice while devoting less attention to the premises that shape the understanding of DRR issues. The ten truisms concern forecasting, loss, conflict, migration, the local level, collaboration, social capital, prevention, policy change, and risk awareness. The article discusses central claims associated with each truism, relate those claims to insights in recent DRR scholarship, and end with suggestions for developing the field through advances in conceptualization, measurement, and causal inference.
This article argues that the DRR research field should identify prioritized research directions, linkages between knowledge areas, and ways to cope with the difficulty of transcending topics and disciplines to address this bias. The challenges of conceptualization, measurement, and causality also must be addressed. Several critical DRR phenomena also need greater conceptual clarity, including, e.g., prediction, collaboration, social capital, and disaster loss. Other concepts, such as prevention and response performance, have clear normative implications, which often manifest in debates around alleged successes and failures. Strengthening the science-policy interface in DRR is a bidirectional process involving individuals in both the scientific and practitioner communities that actively engage in forward-looking dialogues to identify what knowledge is needed to inform responses to urgent policy challenges.