Foresight Disasters report

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Emily So
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CAR Directors Robin Spence, Emily So and Stephen Platt produced a report for the Government Office for Science: Foresight Disasters project. The aim of the report was to examine the role of institutions in shaping disaster outcomes, where institutions are defined as rules and conventions which structure and constrain behaviours and which enable choice and action. See Foresight (Government Office for Science).

Three types of natural hazards are considered: tropical cyclones, earthquakes and floods. These hazards were selected as they are global in nature (i.e. they affect the developed as well as the developing world), and are significant in terms of their impacts and research needs.

The following conclusions emerged from the nine case studies:

  • importance of building to code
  • institutional misalignment or imbalance hinder preparedness
  • a lack of cooperation and coordination between key institutions is common
  • early warning systems (EWS) are not achieving their full potential
  • insurance is linked positively to resilience
  • need for community involvement in disaster risk reduction

As well as continuing to collate information about disasters immediately after the event to explore causes of injuries and death, and successes and failures, lessons for science also include investigating the suitability of existing disaster risk reduction (DRR) institutions under a range of future scenarios. Some examples include climate change; developing funding models to assess whether disaster mitigation could be built into mortgages to support higher quality post-disaster reconstruction; and longer term systematic monitoring and evaluation of reconstruction and recovery.

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