Policy Brief: Closing the Gap between Science and Practice at Local Levels to Accelerate Disaster Risk Reduction

This policy brief analyses the existing gap between science and technology (S&T) and its incorporation into disaster risk management at local levels.

In a complex and changing global risk landscape in which extreme hydro-meteorological events are on the rise, and vulnerabilities and disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic occur simultaneously with other hazards, there is a danger that development trends and gains will be reversed. Governments worldwide must therefore urgently translate their global commitments into action by improving their national strategies and policies and enabling more effective and impactful change at the local level.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction attempts to guide national governments by providing a global roadmap for reducing risk and achieving sustainable development. It operates alongside other intergovernmental frameworks such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. National and local DRR strategies and policies, as called for in the Sendai Framework Global Target E, depend on knowledge for informed and effective decision-making and integrated action.

The processes of risk creation interweave across space and time but are driven by development choices and are therefore amenable to policy change and local action. Ensuring inclusive risk reduction at local and national scales is therefore key to achieving tangible progress on targets set out in the Sendai Framework. Whether a hazard turns into a disaster or not depends on both socio-economic and geographical conditions. Local governments should be equipped with the best knowledge of local conditions and needs, and thus have a key responsibility for reducing disaster risk to protect the lives and livelihoods of local populations and secure development gains. In the case of emergencies, they have a central role in providing response and recovery mechanisms.

Even though a large body of disaster-related research dealing with both drivers and consequences has been produced over recent decades – and despite an increased recognition of the centrality of this research in supporting strategies for disaster risk management – there continue to be significant gaps in the co-design and application of knowledge for action. This is due not only to an insufficient uptake of science into DRR management and implementation, but also to inadequate engagement between scientists and practitioners: there is a lack of mechanisms and incentives to facilitate such an exchange. Narrowing the gap between knowledge and local action must therefore be a key priority for the Mid-term Review of the Sendai Framework.

Closing the Gap between Science and Practice at Local Levels to Accelerate Disaster Risk Reduction

Satoru Nishikawa, América Bendito Torija, Qunli Han, Fang Lian, Jo-Ting Huang- Lachmann, Anda Popovici, Anne-Sophie Stevance, 2022. Paris, France, International Science Council. https://council.science/publications/closing-the-gap/

This publication was presented at the 2022 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP2022) in Bali, Indonesia.

Image by Amors photos on Shutterstock


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