Linking Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management for Sustainable Poverty Reduction: Synthesis Report

Roger Few
Posted on: 10/31/2006 - Updated on: 2/19/2018

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Hydrometeorological hazards such as floods, droughts and tropical cyclones afflict many regions of the world, but their impact in terms of lives lost and livelihoods disrupted tends to fall most heavily on the poor in developing countries. Climate change threatens to heighten these impacts in many areas, both by changing the frequency and/or intensity of extreme events and by bringing changes in mean conditions that may alter the underlying vulnerability of populations to hazards. The result in the decades to come may be an increase in the global burden of weather-related disasters: events that can threaten the sustainability of development processes and undermine progress toward poverty reduction.

Holistic management of disaster risk requires action to reduce impacts of extreme events before, during and after they occur, including technical preventive measures and aspects of socio-economic development designed to reduce human vulnerability to hazards. Approaches toward the management of climate change impacts also have to consider the reduction of human vulnerability under changing levels of risk. A key challenge and opportunity therefore lies in building a bridge between current disaster risk management efforts aimed at reducing vulnerabilities to extreme events and efforts to promote climate change adaptation. There is a need to understand better the extent to which current disaster management practices reflect future adaptation needs and assess what changes may be required if such practices are to address future risks.

At the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in Kobe, Japan, 2005, the inter-agency Vulnerability and Adaptation Resource Group (VARG) presented the discussion paper “Disaster Risk Management in a Changing Climate” to support a dialogue on synergies and differences between approaches to disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change. At Kobe, the link between disaster risk management and climate change was subject of intensive formal and informal debates. Overall, the outcomes of WCDR call for a strengthening of preventive measures aimed at reducing loss of human lives, and loss of economic and environmental assets of communities and countries over the next ten years. The priorities for actions were outlined in the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters. The Framework supports a stronger recognition of climate change concerns in disaster risk reduction strategies and seeks to establish multi-disciplinary, forward looking approach. In this context the importance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is recognized.

These developments prompted VARG to initiate the follow-up project Linking Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management for Sustainable Poverty Reduction is a key contribution to this theme. The project used grounded examples in Mexico, Kenya and Vietnam and exchange of experiences across those contexts to provide insights into how a more integrated approach to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation can be built. Although risk assessments formed part of the studies, main emphasis was placed on analysing the institutional capacity and constraints/opportunities within the policy process. One area within each country was also selected for more detailed investigation to help ground and inform the national-level institutional analysis. The chosen areas were Nam Dinh province in Vietnam, Yucatan State in Mexico; and Kitui district in Kenya.


Few, R. (2006). Linking climate change adaptation and disaster risk management for sustainable poverty reduction: Synthesis report. Vulnerability and Adaptation Resource Group, European Commission.