Protect assets or be resilient? Learning from disaster theory and practice

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




John Handmer (Australia) 1

1 - School of Science, RMIT University

Reprising 30 years plus of experience in disaster risk management, this presentation documents moments in the evolution of theory and practice from asset protection to transformative resilience. Disaster theory and practice has long confronted many of the issues now seen as part of adaptation. That the fields overlap is the subject of much literature, and now they share the same imperative of resilience as an answer to what appears to be limited progress. Sometimes it seems that adaptation is seen as resilience – as if resilience is as far as we need to go with adaptation. A similar observation could be made about the emphasis of some DRR organisations, where the focus has shifted from prevention to community resilience – in the process taking the attention away from those instrumental in risk creation. Resilience is a widely embraced positive concept, but it is often seen as problematic and in particular ignores the power dynamics and structural issues in societies and economies. A related issue is the use of the idea of transformation, especially in adaptation circles, where enhanced resilience is often seen as transformative. A concern here is the capture of ñtransformationî by those who might mean incrementalism.