Climate and disaster governance;

Exploring climate change and disaster governance issues

Published on 1 April 2011

Research on the governance implications of climate change and disasters for developing countries is in its infancy. Climate change brings new challenges to informal and formal institutions, and reveals new levels of uncertainty that forces us to ask questions about those governance systems. For example, are institutions flexible enough to effectively deal with the uncertainty posed by climate change? Do we know enough about how to link different scales of governance to support communities at risk in a changing environment?

Climate change will increase the frequency and severity of some hazards, while changes in average climate conditions are already damaging livelihoods, increasing poverty, and therefore making many people more vulnerable to hazards (IPCC 2007). Climate change is also increasing uncertainty with the rise in unexpected events and the fact they are happening for the first time.

Governance is becoming more important as it involves the structures and institutions that determine the amount and quality of social protection people have access to, disaster preparedness and opportunities for livelihoods. Without good governance, it is inevitable that climate change will increases people’s day-to-day vulnerability and makes climate-related hazards more powerful and frequent.

Policies to deal with climate change and new funding streams are emerging for Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Governments and development agencies need to understand what these signify for reducing poverty and vulnerability. The Climate and Disaster Governance (CDG) project explored the possibilities of bringing CCA and DRR together and this publication summarises the key outputs.

The CDG project is a collaboration between Christian Aid and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and started in 2007. It has enabled relevant practitioners, researchers and policymakers to develop their understanding of how the different fields overlap. The project explored research carried out by practitioners and researchers in developing countries. The CDG web portal shared tools and case studies of effective DRR from around the world, including original research on social protection in Ethiopia, accountability to communities in the Philippines and disaster insurance mechanisms in the Caribbean.

The first three chapters focus on specific pieces of research on social protection, accountability, and disaster insurance in the context of government accountability and the role of the private sector. The fourth chapter summarises research, by winners of bursary awards in Africa, Asia and Latin America, that assesses policy on climate change and DRR and the challenges governments and civil society face working together.

The report highlights the findings from the CDG project and the continuing challenges faced in integrating CCA and DRR. In an attempt to address these challenges, the Climate Smart Disaster Risk Management (CSDRM) approach was developed in 2010 by IDS, Christian Aid and Plan International. This paper concludes by exploring the implications for CSDRM of the CDG project.

Cite this publication

Institute of Development Studies (2011) Exploring climate change and disaster governance issues, Brighton: IDS


Terry Cannon

Emeritus Fellow

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies
Katie Harris, Terry Cannon and Katherine Nightingale


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