We cannot eliminate all disaster risks, but we can make better decisions by understanding the trade-offs.
Transforming development and disaster risk
Development is vital for reducing disaster risk, yet current unsustainable development models are driving and creating disaster risks, for example, in the removal of natural storm-surge protection barriers including mangrove forests in favour of aquaculture farms or beachfront properties. At the same time, disasters can destroy development gains, but existing disaster risk reduction (DRR) approaches are not sufficiently contributing to sustainable development. Transformation is increasingly understood and considered as a legitimate and necessary pathway for moving from current development patterns that increase, create or unfairly distribute risks, towards more equitable, resilient and sustainable development.
TDDR considers transformation as the altering of fundamental attributes of linked development-DRR systems, primarily through challenging existing governance arrangements, institutions, power paradigms, social values, and techno-centric practices. Transformation is increasingly seen as necessary because the macro-level status quo is not sufficiently equipped to address the environment and development, and climate and disaster risk challenges facing the planet. Initiating and facilitating transformative processes requires adaptive governance, learning, innovation, and leadership.
Since 2015, the SEI Initiative on Transforming Development and Disaster Risk (TDDR) has been working to advance scientific knowledge and support policy and practice to enact transformations towards more equitable, resilient and sustainable societies. TDDR develops, refines and communicates insights and approaches on how to transform the relationship between development and disaster risk, from one where risks are socially and politically created within development processes, to one where sustainable development and DRR work in unison to address the root causes of risk. Our focus on transformation highlights the need for systemic change to social systems that create and perpetuate risk, and lead to socially unjust and unsustainable development outcomes.
The central goal of TDDR is aligned with both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction; two major international frameworks adopted in 2015. Our work is also motivated by the 2012 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX), the 2015 Global Assessment Report on DRR which called for transformative practices to manage risks inside development, and the recent 2018 UN high-level political forum which had the theme ‘transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies’.
In exploring these concepts and themes, we have developed and framed principles and approaches to support our vision of transforming development and disaster risk. We identify trade-offs in decision-making, equitable resilience, and adaptive governance as approaches with transformative potential within the TDDR framework, shown below. We have tested these approaches in post-disaster recovery contexts in Tacloban, Philippines following Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, and in flood affected and climate vulnerable Bangladesh.
We have developed and tested a typology framework of trade-offs that can be used to expose the risks and benefits of decisions related to development and DRR, specifically interrogating participation, equity, timescale, risks, and aggregate dimensions of trade-offs. Our work on equitable resilience has also conceptualized and empirically tested the transformative potential of subjecting resilience to equity considerations to expose how levers of power define different outcomes. We have also identified how adaptive governance can lead to transformative outcomes for DRR by looking at the components of the Sendai Framework.
International Centre of Excellence on Transforming Development and Disaster Risk
In recognition of our work, the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme – a decade-long research programme co-sponsored by the International Science Council (ISC) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) – endorsed SEI as the host of the International Centre of Excellence on Transforming Development and Disaster Risk (ICoE-TDDR). ICoE-TDDR seeks to integrate development and DRR through combined approaches and action in scientific research, policy engagement and capacity development.
One way that we intend to do this is by providing a platform for co-creating new knowledge on transformation, together with, and in direct support of, development and DRR policy and practice institutions and initiatives. Within SEI, for example, we offer a framework in support of projects to explore the relevance and necessity for transformation, such as the Disability and disasters: Empowering people and building resilience to risk project, the equitable resilience in local institutions (ERLI) project, and the Building Resilience through Inclusive and Climate-Adaptive Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia-Pacific (BRDR) programme.
ICoE-TDDR is also continuing the work of the SEI Initiative by providing scientific knowledge in support of global, regional and national policy processes, as strongly emphasized in the Sendai Framework. At the global level, this includes the UNISDR Science and Technology Advisory Group (STAG) and IRDR. At the regional level, in Southeast Asia, we seek to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) and the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) work programme, in addition to the UNISDR Asia Science Technology and Academia Advisory Group (ASTAAG). ASTAAG provides policy advisory services to governments and other stakeholders on appropriate technology and its application in decision-making in the region. In Eastern Africa, we aim to work with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretariat to achieve endorsement and formal recognition as a formal research and dialogue partner. These relationships will offer strategic opportunities for TDDR to pursue a transformative agenda in development and disaster risk.
In October 2018, the TDDR in Asia Forum – co-hosted by the ICoE-TDDR, SEI, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) and Chulalongkorn University, Thailand – is bringing together key stakeholders in science, policy and practice. Researchers, decision-makers, practitioners and students working on development and DRR in Asia will identify priorities and explore opportunities for transformation in Asia at local, national and regional scales. Sessions will focus on key sustainable development concerns in Asia: urban governance, livelihoods, water resources management, and gender and social equality.
Our work to date has shown that transformation is key to moving away from current development patterns that increase or create risks and inequalities to forms of development that are equitable and resilient. The Centre of Excellence will serve as a platform and a hub of knowledge and policy engagement on transforming development and disaster risk to deepen our work with key partners at global, regional, national and local levels.
The tragedy of the Xepian-Xe Nam hydropower dam collapse in Laos is an opportunity to reflect on how transforming development can reduce disaster risk.
The Asia Pacific region faces growing challenges for disaster risk reduction. SEI's TDDR Initiative presented its case for DRR transformation at AMCDRR 2018.
This new book aims to sensitize policy agendas and responses to disaster and climate-related hazards to the complexities of human mobility.
Senior expert Heidi Tuhkanen discusses the initial results from a case study analyzing trade-offs between development and disaster risk reduction.
A new book provides an overview of progress and challenges in disaster risk reduction in Indonesia. SEI Asia’s Frank Thomalla is co-editor.
Indonesia has invested in restructuring its governance institutions to transform its disaster governance system from focusing on post-disaster response.
The Sendai Framework laid out an ambitious agenda for DRR, but more needs to be done to address the underlying drivers of risk.
As vulnerability to disaster in Asia increases, the SEI Asia centre will boost the contribution of science to tackling risk and meeting international targets.
This report addresses the research gap on climate change vulnerability of young women and girls, with a focus on agricultural communities in Northern Thailand.
Find out how resilience practice can take better account of equity and power issues by paying greater attention to social contexts.
This brief looks at the failures of development and disaster risk reduction and calls for a transformation in this relationship through policy changes.
This paper presents and tests a conceptual framework for analysing the trade-offs that underpin the relationship between development and disaster risk.
How can science and technology help reduce disaster risk? This paper provides a roadmap for Asia by describing fourteen actions and six proposals.
Based on a literature review, here are three opportunities that could lead to transformation in the development-disaster risk relationship.
This paper, based on an analytical literature review, reveals four themes essential in understanding equitable resilience in practice.
Using China as a case study, this article calls for more nuanced understanding of the different pathways of climate change vulnerability effects.
Evidence of adaptive governance in the Sendai Framework and its potential as a non-traditional approach to disaster risk reduction
This Handbook traces the uneven experiences that have accompanied development in Southeast Asia.
Improving understanding of the influence that recovery narratives have had on how decisions and actions are undertaken to recover from a disaster.
People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable groups during disasters, yet they remain largely unaccounted for in disaster risk reduction
The aim of this work is to use themes and critical perspectives from the academic literature to provide insights and alternative perspectives on resilience.
Stakeholders in Australia, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden perceive that current flood governance arrangements fall far short of inclusive ideals.
This brief outlines key trade-offs in decision-making on development and DRR at various governance levels
This policy brief highlights the lessons-learned from the RISC-KIT project and provides recommendations relevant to the Sendai Framework and EU Floods Directive
This book is a unique, transdisciplinary summary of the state of the art of disaster risk reduction (DRR) in Indonesia
This chapter aims to contribute to understanding of community-based appraoches during major disaster recoveries.
This article investigates how the 2011 floods in Central Thailand affected small and mid-sized businesses and how successfully they have recovered
This report summarizes the lessons learnt from the 2015-2016 El Niño event and represents a UN approach to put these lessons into practice.
This report chapter examines the factors that are driving disaster risk in the Asia and Pacific region.
This brief highlights the need to look at local interpretations and responses to risks for context-specific and effective disaster risk reduction strategies.
This article examines how disaster risk reduction and adaptation can inform development to tackle the underlying drivers of disaster risk.
- SEI Associates
- SEI Associates