13th October 2020 — Did you know that there is no such thing as a natural disaster, only natural hazards? Not every hazard has to turn into a disaster. Without vulnerability and exposure, a sandstorm in the desert, for example, does not have to be a disaster.
Today, on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (#DRRday), we want to spread the word: Natural events can generally not be prevented – but their impact can be mitigated. Disaster risk reduction (DRR) strives towards reducing the vulnerability of individuals, households and societies by strengthening #RiskGovernance and the capabilities of communities and institutional structures to respond to hazards. Thus, even if or when such an extreme event occurs, it will not become a disaster. We need to understand risks as the combination of hazard, exposure and vulnerability.
Why do we need to strengthen risk governance?
Disasters—just as we are currently experiencing with COVID-19—have impacts on a variety of areas such as public health, economy, climate change adaptation, governance, tourism, critical infrastructure (e.g. hospitals, transport, water, communication) and can have devastating effects in already fragile contexts. DRR is a cross-sectoral issue. Stakeholders and institutions involved have to be strengthened in their capacities and competences to make risk-informed decisions.
COVID-19 provides valuable lessons learned on risk governance and how to include vulnerable or marginalised groups and promote gender-responsive measures. We make choices as to (1) where we built our homes, hospitals, schools and other critical infrastructure, (2) how we live, build, and work more resilient and (3) what kind of research we do. Resilience relies on good governance and cooperation. We must implement coherent disaster risk reduction and risk governance to strengthen resilience and risk-informed development.
- Click here to listen to UN Podcast (16 min): Beirut and other disasters, ‘don’t take turns to strike us’
- GNDR Digital Global Summit (6th-22nd October 2020): Click here to register now!
- Early warning is the focus of this year’s German Conference on DRR (19-20th October 2020): Click here to register now!