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SEI brief

Enabling an ambitious agenda for transformation in development and disaster risk

Development and disaster risk are closely interconnected. If today’s ever-increasing disaster risk is to be addressed, we must ensure the breakneck pace of development in many world regions is more equitable, resilient and sustainable. This will require a transformation of the current DRR model that challenges the dominant values and goals in current development practice, identifies the failures of development and DRR, and calls for radical policy changes.

Three opportunities for realizing this transformation include: analysis of the trade-offs that are associated with development or DRR decision making; an explicit focus on securing equitable resilience through development or DRR interventions; and application of adaptive governance to transform development and DRR systems.

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An aerial view of Tacloban, in the Philippines, which was hit by typhoon Haiyan in November 2013

An aerial view of Tacloban, in the Philippines, which was hit by typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, destroying more than 30,000 houses. Photo: Michael Boyland / SEI.

Transformation as a fundamental approach

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is a complex challenge that requires work on many fronts with a diversity of disciplines and stakeholders that cannot be successful without consideration of development, as the two are closely interconnected.

Progress on disaster risk reduction is often restricted by its failure to acknowledge how development processes can act as the root causes of disasters. Addressing the underlying drivers of risk inherent in the failures of development and DRR requires actions that challenge existing structures, power relations, vested interests, and dominant narratives that persist within systems and maintain and perpetuate poverty, inequality, and marginalization – a transformation of the current DRR approach.

As a boundary concept, transformation challenges dominant values and goals in current development practice, and examines the underlying failures of development and DRR to call for radical policy changes. Transformative DRR cuts across sectors, and is characterized by changes in structures, goals, perspectives, and/or governance regimes that alter the risk management status quo. In this framing, transformative processes are triggered by major disasters, and positive outcomes are enabled by inclusive decision-making, self-organizing groups and networks beyond established institutions, and anticipatory risk planning that goes beyond coping.

Transforming Development and Disaster Risk: Opportunities for transformation

Researchers from SEI's initiative on transforming development and disaster risk (TDDR) discuss a framework of opportunities for transformation around trade-offs in decision-making, equitable resilience, and adaptive governance, and the testing of this framework in post-disaster Tacloban, Philippines, following Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).<br />

Short interviews with researchers from SEI’s initiative explaining the opportunities for transformation of development and disaster risk.

Video: TDDR, SEI / YouTube.

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Download the brief / PDF / 140 KB

SEI authors

Profile picture of Frank Thomalla
Frank Thomalla

SEI Affiliated Researcher

SEI Asia

Guoyi Han
Guoyi Han

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Profile picture of Jon Ensor
Jon Ensor

Professor

SEI York

Heidi Tuhkanen
Heidi Tuhkanen

Senior Expert (Environmental Management Programme)

SEI Tallinn

Arno Rosemarin
Arno Rosemarin

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Åsa Gerger Swartling
Åsa Gerger Swartling

Head of Knowledge Management, Senior Research Fellow

Global Operations

SEI Headquarters

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