Developing countries are disproportionally affected by climate-related disasters. Research by an ANU Master of Climate Change student finds that this may be intensified by the fact that policies focussed on reducing vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters are not being integrated into policy in practice.
Using the Philippines as a case study, Eryn Gayle de Leon, has explored how climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction can be integrated within existing institutional and policy frameworks. The research was conducted as part of her Masters degree and has just been published in Climate and Development.
“The Philippines is particularly vulnerable to hazards such as typhoons, storm surges, droughts and tsunamis,” said Eryn. “Although they’ve recently introduced national legislation demanding policy integration, there is currently an implementation gap. For example, unfortunately the designated first responders, local government, just don’t have the financial, institutional and technical resources to implement needed reforms effectively.
“Another major issue is that most current policy instruments focus on post disaster impacts rather than reducing vulnerability. This failure to adapt to climate change only increases disaster risk.”
The research makes a number of recommendations on how to address the problem.
“It’s really important to develop an environment that facilitates institutional change and supports locally led actions, rather than simply taking a top-down approach”, said Associate Professor Jamie Pittock, who supervised the research.
“First and foremost, the system must be focussed on addressing underlying vulnerability to climate change. Secondly it must be able to combine informal responses and local knowledge with what the science is telling us. Thirdly, it must have the flexibility to deal with uncertainty over future climate conditions.”