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Special Issue "Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2011)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Thomas J. Cova (Website)

Director, Center for Natural & Technological Hazards, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Utah, 270 S. Central Campus Dr., Rm 270, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-9115, USA
Fax: 801-581-8219
Interests: hazards and disasters; emergency management; transportation; GIScience
Guest Editor
Dr. Scott Miles (Website)

Department of Environmental Studies, Western Washington University, 516 High St, MS 9085, Bellingham, WA 98225, USA

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Disasters are associated with failures to develop communities in a sustainable manner. Conversely, sustainable development – achievement of vibrant and equitable economic, social and environmental systems for current and future generations – is impossible without reducing the risk of future disasters. Disaster risk reduction incorporates broadly inclusive capacity building, hazard mitigation, emergency response, and community recovery. Each component of disaster risk reduction both requires, and provides opportunity for, sustainable development. These efforts should take place across many geographic scales with broad public participation informing all aspects of planning and decision-making. This special issue will focus on new theoretical frameworks, methods, and case studies aimed at promoting the inter-related goals of sustainable development and disaster risk reduction. These goals are interdisciplinary in nature and thus contributions are welcome from the social and physical sciences including environmental science, engineering, urban planning, public health, geography, and human ecology.

Dr. Thomas J. Cova
Dr. Scott Miles
Guest Editors

Keywords

  • disaster risk reduction
  • sustainable development
  • community resilience

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle ‘Sufferings Start from the Mothers’ Womb’: Vulnerabilities and Livelihood War of the Small-Scale Fishers of Bangladesh
Sustainability 2011, 3(12), 2500-2527; doi:10.3390/su3122500
Received: 10 August 2011 / Revised: 22 October 2011 / Accepted: 17 November 2011 / Published: 20 December 2011
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (897 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Due to its deltaic geographical position and precarious socioeconomic and demographic conditions, Bangladesh is recognized worldwide for its exposure to recurring environmental hazards. Based on a 21-month long field study in two fishing villages that are characterized by distinct ecological settings and [...] Read more.
Due to its deltaic geographical position and precarious socioeconomic and demographic conditions, Bangladesh is recognized worldwide for its exposure to recurring environmental hazards. Based on a 21-month long field study in two fishing villages that are characterized by distinct ecological settings and ethnic groups, this article examines the arrays of cross-scale environmental, social and institutional stressors that singly or cumulatively impact fishers’ livelihood well-being and generational poverty. Analysis of the vulnerabilities makes it clear that the degree to which poor fishers suffer from environmental stressors and calamities is determined not only by the frequency of abnormal events, but also by their internal capabilities of self-protection, resilience against those stressors, position in the social network and asset and resource ownership. Coastal and floodplain fishers identified cyclone and long-standing floods as strong drivers of poverty as their bundles of ‘safety net’ capital are usually disrupted or lost. For a majority of the fishers, income/day/family declines to as low as US$ 0.7–0.9. Fishers lack appropriate sets of endowments and entitlements that would allow them immediate buffer against livelihood stressors. Vulnerability here is intricately related to one’s socio-economic status; poor and ‘socially vulnerable’ ethnic fishers are concurrently ‘biologically vulnerable’ too. The corollary of multi-faceted stressors is that, poverty persists as an ever-increasing haunting presence that thousands of floodplain and coastal fishers of Bangladesh are forced to cope with. It is evident that nature-induced stressors exert ‘ratchet effects’ on fishers with low endowments who critically risk nutritional deprivation and social standing. Lucidly, most of the fishers are trapped in a form of livelihood war’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle The Unsustainable Trend of Natural Hazard Losses in the United States
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2157-2181; doi:10.3390/su3112157
Received: 10 October 2011 / Revised: 26 October 2011 / Accepted: 28 October 2011 / Published: 14 November 2011
Cited by 25 | PDF Full-text (2812 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Correction | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In the United States, direct losses from natural hazards are on the rise with hurricanes, flooding, and severe storms contributing about three quarters of the total damages. While losses from severe storms have been stable over the past fifty years, hurricane and [...] Read more.
In the United States, direct losses from natural hazards are on the rise with hurricanes, flooding, and severe storms contributing about three quarters of the total damages. While losses from severe storms have been stable over the past fifty years, hurricane and flood losses have tripled. Per capita losses are also increasing showing that impacts outpace population growth with high per capita losses occurring largely in the Southeast and Midwest. If the loss escalation of the past two decades continues into the future, then direct losses of $300 to $400 billion within a single decade are possible. In order to reverse this trend, sustainable development, vulnerability reduction, and hazard mitigation must become priorities and current loss reduction efforts need to be evaluated and re-assessed in terms of their effectiveness. These conclusions are drawn from the analysis of spatial and temporal trends in direct losses from natural hazards using SHELDUSTM data from 1960 through 2009. Loss data are adjusted for inflation, population, and wealth to capture both trends in total losses and per capita losses. The loss data are then compared to disaster-related federal government and private insurance expenditures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Modeling Evacuate versus Shelter-in-Place Decisions in Wildfires
Sustainability 2011, 3(10), 1662-1687; doi:10.3390/su3101662
Received: 29 July 2011 / Revised: 16 September 2011 / Accepted: 16 September 2011 / Published: 29 September 2011
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (310 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Improving community resiliency to wildfire is a challenging problem in the face of ongoing development in fire-prone regions. Evacuation and shelter-in-place are the primary options for reducing wildfire casualties, but it can be difficult to determine which option offers the most protection [...] Read more.
Improving community resiliency to wildfire is a challenging problem in the face of ongoing development in fire-prone regions. Evacuation and shelter-in-place are the primary options for reducing wildfire casualties, but it can be difficult to determine which option offers the most protection in urgent scenarios. Although guidelines and policies have been proposed to inform this decision, a formal approach to evaluating protective options would help advance protective-action theory. We present an optimization model based on the premise that protecting a community can be viewed as assigning threatened households to one of three actions: evacuation, shelter-in-refuge, or shelter-in-home. While evacuation generally offers the highest level of life protection, it can place residents at greater risk when little time is available. This leads to complex trade-offs involving expected fire intensity, available time, and the quality and accessibility of in-place shelter. An application of the model is presented to illustrate a range of issues that can arise across scenarios. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Emergency Managers Confront Climate Change
Sustainability 2011, 3(8), 1250-1264; doi:10.3390/su3081250
Received: 18 July 2011 / Revised: 12 August 2011 / Accepted: 15 August 2011 / Published: 19 August 2011
PDF Full-text (250 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Emergency managers will have to deal with the impending, uncertain, and possibly extreme effects of climate change. Yet, many emergency managers are not aware of the full range of possible effects, and they are unsure of their place in the effort to [...] Read more.
Emergency managers will have to deal with the impending, uncertain, and possibly extreme effects of climate change. Yet, many emergency managers are not aware of the full range of possible effects, and they are unsure of their place in the effort to plan for, adapt to, and cope with those effects. This may partly reflect emergency mangers’ reluctance to get caught up in the rancorous—and politically-charged—debate about climate change, but it mostly is due to the worldview shared by most emergency managers. We focus on: extreme events; acute vs. chronic hazards (floods vs. droughts); a shorter event horizon (5 years vs. 75–100 years); and a shorter planning and operational cycle. This paper explores the important intersection of emergency management, environmental management, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. It examines the different definitions of terms common to all three fields, the overlapping strategies used in all three fields, and the best means of collaboration and mutual re-enforcement among the three to confront and solve the many possible futures that we may face in the climate change world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Building Resilient Communities through Empowering Women with Information and Communication Technologies: A Pakistan Case Study
Sustainability 2011, 3(1), 82-96; doi:10.3390/su3010082
Received: 4 November 2010 / Revised: 16 December 2010 / Accepted: 31 December 2010 / Published: 4 January 2011
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (258 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the contemporary world, a revolution in digital technologies has changed our way of life—for better. The role of women is expanding in socio-economic, political and physical spaces; hence their empowerment will contribute toward resilience and capacity building that contributes to sustainability [...] Read more.
In the contemporary world, a revolution in digital technologies has changed our way of life—for better. The role of women is expanding in socio-economic, political and physical spaces; hence their empowerment will contribute toward resilience and capacity building that contributes to sustainability and disaster risk reduction in the long run. In developing nations, especially in rural regions, women empowered with information and communication technologies can enhance their capacity to cope in diverse situations. This paper addresses the vital role of information and communication technologies intervention and resilient communities with the help of a case study carried out in Pakistan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Building Capacity for Disaster Resiliency in Six Disadvantaged Communities
Sustainability 2011, 3(1), 1-20; doi:10.3390/su3010001
Received: 26 November 2010 / Accepted: 10 December 2010 / Published: 23 December 2010
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (92 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Disaster plans almost always do not benefit from the knowledge and values of disadvantaged people who are frequently underrepresented in disaster planning processes. Consequently, the plans are inconsistent with the conditions, concerns, and capabilities of disadvantaged people. We present an approach to [...] Read more.
Disaster plans almost always do not benefit from the knowledge and values of disadvantaged people who are frequently underrepresented in disaster planning processes. Consequently, the plans are inconsistent with the conditions, concerns, and capabilities of disadvantaged people. We present an approach to community-based participatory planning aimed at engaging marginalized and distrustful communities to build their capacity to be more disaster resilient. We review the experiences of six disadvantaged communities under the Emergency Preparedness Demonstration (EPD) project. The EPD effort revealed several critical implications: recruit a diverse set of participants for inclusive collaboration; provide analytical tools to co-develop information and empower people; employ coaches to organize and facilitate sustainable community change; design a bottom-up review process for selection of strategies that holds communities accountable; and build capacity for implementation of strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development)

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