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Policy arena disaster risk reduction or climate change adaptation: are we reinventing the wheel?

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J. Mercer (ed)
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This paper explores the differences and similarities between Disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) through analysing climate-related DRR in Papua New Guinea (PNG) within the context of wider development policies. It notes that more similarities than differences exist between CCA and DRR, but DRR presents advantages for development policy and practice that CCA does not. DRR also has a long record of being successfully implemented at the local level to reduce community vulnerability to environmental hazards while supporting development processes. The main difference between the two lies in the political prominence and recognition that climate change receives internationally. The report indicates that in PNG, developing climate change and DRR policies has been very much top-down, frequently initiated with limited community consultation or involvement. It further notes that from community views, terminologies such as CCA and DRR meant nothing to the PNG communities. It reports that these communities were concerned with interrelated processes such as political, social, environmental and economic factors impacting their community. The communities also identified that climate change was one factor amongst many contributing to their vulnerability to hazardous events The paper concludes that to focus solely upon climate change through CCA rather than considering all contributory factors to community risk would be detrimental to communities concerned. There is an inherent danger of over-focusing upon a need to adapt to climate change due to its prominence in the international arena, rather than focusing on vulnerable conditions identified by communities themselves. The report recommends that:

there is need to embed CCA within DRR thereby ensuring all factors, including climate change are considered
DRR needs to be embedded within wider sustainable development policy
there is need to urgently address climate change to prevent further irreversible damage
lessons learned from this case should be equally applied elsewhere.