Sustainability Science

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 171–184 | Cite as

Integrating disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation: key challenges—scales, knowledge, and norms

Special Feature: Original Article Vulnerability, risk, and adaptation in a changing climate

Abstract

Statistical data shows that the increase in disasters due to natural hazards over the past 20 years has, for the most part, been caused by meteorological and hydrological events. This increase has been largely assigned to climate change [Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), 2010, http://www.emdat.be/Database/Trends/trends.html], that is, with climate-related hazards being major triggers for the majority of disasters. Consequently, there is obvious concern about how a changing climate will exacerbate the situation in the future (McBean and Ajibade in Curr Opin Environ Sustain 1:179–186, 2009). However, the attribution of a single hazard event or specific losses to climate change is still difficult, if not impossible, due to the complexity of factors that generate disaster losses. Disaster risk is a product of the interaction of the hazard (event) and the vulnerability conditions of the society or elements exposed. As a result, the need for a systematic linkage between disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) to advance sustainable development, and finally human security is being discussed within the ongoing climate change negotiations as well as within the disaster risk community, for example, in the framework of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on ‘Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation’. However, crucial differences between DRR and CCA exist that have widely limited or hampered their integration in practice. A review of existing literature on the topic and current national and local adaptation strategies, as well as 38 expert interviews conducted between April and May 2009, have led the authors to hypothesise that most of these differences and challenges can be categorised with respect to different spatial and temporal scales, the knowledge base, and norm systems. This paper examines the reasons for the practical barriers when linking CCA and DRR according to these three aspects. Finally, we outline recommendations and measures that need to be adopted in order to overcome existing barriers. In addition, quality criteria are formulated that should be applied in order to constantly monitor and evaluate adaptation strategies designed to simultaneously meet DRR requirements and vice versa.

Keywords

Disaster risk reduction Climate change adaptation Conflict Risk management 

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Copyright information

© Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science, United Nations University, and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)United Nations UniversityBonnGermany
  2. 2.CUBE Engineering GmbHKasselGermany

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