Building back better

Across the planet, natural disaster and conflict have been the catalyst for a stunning rise in mass human migration, which was estimated (in 2015) to be around 224 million people and growing rapidly. And while the majority of media coverage and political focus has been on those refugees fleeing war, those fleeing natural disasters make up more than 70% of the total.

Drought, flooding, storms and earthquakes have all contributed to the unprecedented scale of this dislocation, which saw the UN General Assembly host a heads of state summit in 2016 to address the challenge and build a blueprint for a better international response. The summit presented a united front in committing to “win-win” cooperation between states most affected, noting that a response framework for handling the construction of new communities must be built for millions.

But it’s not as simple as laying down a little transport infrastructure, delivering critical utilities, encouraging industry and building some houses. Planning and construction of disaster-resistant new cities and towns is imperative in an environment that has seen a doubling of extreme weather events over the last 40 years.

As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Robert Glasser wrote recently:

“[…] the worst disasters which could happen have not happened yet and, in order to minimise the possibility of future losses, building back better means avoiding the creation of new risk, reducing existing levels of risk and managing any residual risk that cannot be eliminated.”

Glasser then outlines the main drivers of weather-related disasters, including, “increased exposure and vulnerability due to poverty, the breakneck pace of urbanisation […], population growth, the destruction of protective eco-systems, low institutional capacity to manage disaster risk and, increasingly, climate change.”

So those rebuilding old communities or building new communities must identify and engage with a number of complex and interrelated issues to ensure greater future resilience.

Take Canada’s response to its most costly annual natural hazard, overland flooding. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale worked to create a federal flood mapping frameworks and guidelines series, which:

“[…] identifies the boundaries of a potential flood event and support(s) informed decisions and investments to reduce the impacts of flooding in communities across Canada.”

The maple nation has identified an ongoing hazard, engaged with overlapping, complex issues, and delivered an outcome that increases Canada’s resilience against future hazard.

Natural disasters have massive human and financial cost. Some of the world’s best minds continue to work on ways to reduce risk of ongoing disaster and build back better. While your business may not be affected on such a scale, replicating two systems from these international responses can help in the event of a localised natural disaster.

First: planning should identify and engage with the complex and interrelated issues unique to your business.

Second: rebuilding should avoid creating new risk, reduce existing risk and manage residual risk.

Tigertail can help you identify new risk, reduce and manage current risk and rebuild your business into a more resilient organisation.

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