Rethinking disaster risk management and climate change adaptation

Media type: 
Michael Howes
Deanna Grant-Smith
Kim Reis
Peter Tangney
Karyn Bosomworth
Michael Heazle
Darryn McEvoy
Paul Burton
Griffith University
RMIT University

Australian governments face the twin challenges of dealing with extreme weather-related disasters (such as floods and bushfires) and adapting to the impacts of climate change. These challenges are connected, so any response would benefit from a more integrated approach across and between the different levels of government.This report summarises the findings of an NCCARF-funded project that addresses this problem.

The project undertook a three-way comparative case study of the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the 2011 Perth Hills bushfires, and the 2011 Brisbane floods. It collected data from the official inquiry reports into each of these events, and conducted new interviews and workshops with key stakeholders. The findings of this project included recommendations that range from the conceptual to the practical. First, it was argued that a reconceptualization of terms such as ‘community’ and ‘resilience’ was necessary to allow for more tailored responses to varying circumstances. Second, it was suggested that the high level of uncertainty inherent in disaster risk management and climate change adaptation requires a more iterative approach to policymaking and planning. Third, some specific institutional reforms were proposed that included: 1) a new funding mechanism that would encourage collaboration between and across different levels of government, as well as promoting partnerships with business and the community; 2) improving community engagement through new resilience grants run by local councils; 3) embedding climate change researchers within disaster risk management agencies to promote institutional learning; and, 4) creating an inter-agency network that encourages collaboration between organisations.

Please cite this report as: 
Howes, M, Grant-Smith, D, Reis, K, Bosomworth, K, Tangney, P, Heazle, M, McEvoy, D & Burton, P 2013, Rethinking disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 53 pp.

Visit the project page here

Banner image copyright Elspeth and Even, Flickr Creative Commons