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Water and Risk: Developing Sustainable and Resilient Communities

This policy report makes the case for Sweden taking a leadership role in promoting a more proactive approach to disaster risk reduction in national and international policy, and making resilience-building an integral part of development.

Åse Johannessen / Published on 10 February 2014

Johannessen, Å., Wamsler, C., Becker, P., Fredby, J., Castell, O., Rottier, E., Sivertun, Å., Björklund, G., and Roffey, R. (2014). Water and Risk: Developing Sustainable and Resilient Communities. Swedish Water House Policy Report/Stockholm International Water Institute.

Natural disasters take an enormous human and economic toll around the world, and the global rate of disasters has almost quadrupled in the last 30 years. This has resulted in escalating human and economic losses, not from an increase of “natural hazards”, but from an increase of vulnerability – much of it due to development that increases exposure to floods, landslides and other risks.

In recent years, important steps towards a more integral and comprehensive approach to DRR have been taken, most notably through the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA). Most disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts still focus on reduction or compensation of existing disaster losses and damage, but there is a growing interest in addressing the underlying drivers of risk and “building resilience” – enabling people to anticipate, adapt to and learn from changes, disruptions and disasters that may harm them.

This report argues that in order to stop creating new risks, DRR must become an integral part of development, not a separate add-on. Aligning DRR and resilience to sustainable development in Swedish national and international policy will not only lead to better long-term solutions, but it may help governing bodies and stakeholders to identify and address trade-offs between different policy goals.

The authors note that Sweden is also well positioned to be a more important international partner in DRR and resilience activities, originating from its strong history of donor support and long engagement in DRR. Acting on this opportunity would enable timely Swedish contributions to the increasing global debate on the need to build resilience to multiple risks, including small-scale and slow-onset disasters, violent conflict, uncontrolled urbanisation, rising consumption, environmental degradation and climate change.

Download the report (PDF, 947kb)

SEI author

Profile picture of Åse Johannessen
Åse Johannessen

SEI Affiliated Researcher

Topics and subtopics
Climate : Disaster risk

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