- Bina Desai, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
- David Dodman, International Institute for Environment and Development
Moderated by Dunja Krause, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development
Tackling disaster risk in informal settlements involves a nuanced understanding of exposure and vulnerability, as well as of people’s capacities to deal with an array of shocks and stressors — only some of which are linked to the environment and climate. Integrated and coherent policy solutions are needed that tackle not only hazard exposure, but also disaster vulnerability.
This webinar brings together two renowned experts to discuss disaster-induced displacement and resettlement and the associated risks people are facing in informal settlements. The speakers will illustrate the issues at stake through examples of resettlement policies that seem to have worked for people, in order to highlight the interlinkages between social development and disaster risk reduction.
Join the conversation with experts Bina Desai and David Dodman, who will share their insights and discuss policy pathways for reducing risk and vulnerability in informal settlements.
The issues at stake
An estimated 1 billion people live in informal settlements, often in urban centres of the developing world. These people face multiple risks to their lives and livelihoods, from climate change and natural hazards, to lack of services and social protection, to disruption of their communities from urban development.
These settlements and their residents are often characterized as exposed, vulnerable and at risk. In coastal cities in particular, there is no denying their extreme exposure to flooding and limited capacity to cope with and adapt to impacts of climate change, for example. Removing people from the most risk-prone areas, and resettling them elsewhere, is often the preferred political solution to reduce disaster risk.
At the same time, however, many cities thrive on the backbone of informal economies based in these settlements. They are often sites of creativity, ingenuity and resilience whose residents make up a significant share of the labour force, delivering essential services related to food, transport, waste management and construction, for example. Yet informal dwellers often lack access to these same basic public services, including social protection and health care, water and sanitation, and energy. In other words, for many people in highly exposed informal settlements, natural hazards and climate change are neither the only nor the most important risk they have to deal with. On a daily basis, they are likely to rely on informal social protection and risk-sharing mechanisms, for example, that are intrinsic to their community and necessary to reduce vulnerability to a variety of shocks.
Removing people from their neighborhoods to resettlement sites therefore bears risks, too. It cannot be seen as the simple win-win solution of less risk and better living conditions that it is often portrayed as. Tackling disaster risk in informal settlements involves a nuanced understanding of exposure and vulnerability, and people’s capacities to deal with an array of shocks and stressors, only some of which are linked to the environment and climate.
About the speakers
Bringing together two renowned experts of risk assessment, displacement and urban development, and informality, this webinar seeks to highlight the interlinkages of social development and disaster risk reduction. It will disentangle narratives of risk in coastal cities, and use examples of resettlement policies that seem to have worked, in order to illustrate the need for integrated and coherent policy solutions that tackle not only hazard exposure, but also disaster vulnerability.
- David Dodman is the Director of the Human Settlements Group at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Development Planning Unit, University College London (UCL). He works in the fields of urban geography, international development, and climate change. He has worked with southern civil society organizations, local and national governments, and international organizations in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. David has recently been appointed as a Coordinating Lead Author on ‘Cities, Settlements and Key Infrastructure’ for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.
- Bina Desai is the Head of Policy and Research at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and responsible for heading IDMC’s team of researchers, political analysts and advisors. From 2010 to 2017 she served as UNISDR’s Policy Analyst and has co-authored and led the production of the United Nations Global Assessment Reports on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR). Bina holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and is the research lead for the IDMC thematic series ‘No matter of choice: displacement in a changing climate’.
- Dunja Krause is a Research Officer at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), where she leads the work on social dimensions of climate change. A geographer by training, she coordinates the Institute’s work on just transition and conducts research on transformative adaptation in coastal cities.