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FEATURE: Integrating disaster risk reduction management – the view from Geneva


Today is the first day of the Third Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. In Geneva, where the delegates are gathering, there’s an overarching topic of conversation. Practitioners and policy-makers agree on the need to put more concerted efforts into integration. For some, this means better linking disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change; for others, integration brings in wider development issues.

What is missing at the moment is practical, actionable advice on how integration can happen. What are the first steps that a disaster risk manager needs to take; how should they approach their senior management team; and how should they generate interest in DRR? A new report, ‘Harnessing Synergies’, by ActionAid and the Institute of Development Studies, attempts to address these questions. The report includes tips, guidance and advice for disaster risk managers on how to mainstream climate change adaptation into their programmes and policies.

Along with sector-specific advice, one of the main recommendations from the report is to pay more attention to understanding organisational change. Individuals are the powerhouses of organisations, and individuals have the momentum, drive and will to change the way an organisation works. Integrating climate change adaptation into the disaster risk reduction sector requires investment in understanding processes of change, in taking a closer look at how institutions ‘tick’ – whether they’re International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs), research organisations or government departments. Often those who are most effective at getting their agenda incorporated into longer-term strategic priorities are individuals who know how to influence.

As the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction continues it deliberations, it is this ability to influence that will continue to determine what are the ‘hot topics’, and what will shape the agenda of the DRR sector over the coming months and years. Let’s hope we’re able to move beyond the recognition of the need for integration, and begin learning from practitioners’ attempts to achieve this much-needed aim.

Katie Harris is the Strengthening Climate Resilience Programme Manager at the Institute of Development Studies

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