New Perspectives on Climate Resilience with Prof. Rajib ShawSep 11, 2023
Climate change and natural disasters pose a significant threat to Asia. With an increase in frequency and severity of climate-related hazards, there has been a shift in focus from disaster risk reduction (DRR) to climate change adaptation. However, it is essential to recognize that the two are inextricably linked and require a holistic approach. In the recent Crisis. Conflict. Emergency Management. podcast episode with guest Professor Rajib Shaw, we will explore the impact of climate change on disaster risk reduction efforts in Asia and the role of innovation and inclusivity in addressing this pressing issue.
The Impact of Climate Change on Disaster Risk Reduction
The impact of climate change on disaster risk reduction efforts in Asia is significant. Shaw explains that changes in precipitation patterns have caused short-duration heavy rainfall, leading to flooding and waterlogging in cities. The old part of cities, with poor drainage systems, is particularly vulnerable to inundation. In contrast, newly developed areas with broader drainage systems have less inundation. This differential impact requires a customized approach to disaster risk reduction, with a differential risk reduction plan for the different zones of the city.
According to Shaw, the impact of climate change on water resources is also a major challenge in many Asian places. In developing countries, schools and public buildings often lack air conditioning facilities, and extreme heatwaves can lead to a loss of education time. Innovative solutions like heat-reflective paint can reduce the temperature of buildings by up to 15 degrees Celsius, making them more energy-efficient and reducing the need for air conditioning.
The Role of Innovation in Disaster Risk Reduction
Innovation is crucial in addressing the challenges posed by climate change and natural disasters. Shaw uses the example of multi-hazard early warning systems that use smartphones and other digital devices that are becoming increasingly popular. However, he believes that it is essential to ensure that digital inclusivity becomes a major focus. The digital divide is a significant concern, with vulnerable populations being left behind in the transition to digital early warning systems.
As Shaw mentions, innovative solutions like AI-based water refining or water purification systems and heat-resistant paint can be game-changers in addressing the challenges posed by climate change and natural disasters. These solutions are affordable, accessible, and can be easily implemented in developing countries. But it is essential to ensure that these innovations are inclusive and benefit the most vulnerable sections of society.
The Role of Inclusivity in Disaster Risk Reduction
Inclusivity is essential in disaster risk reduction efforts. Thus, Shaw suggests that co-designing and co-delivering solutions with communities can lead to more effective and sustainable outcomes. Shaw further notes that traditional knowledge and practices in communities should be recognized, appreciated, and integrated into disaster risk reduction plans. The community should be the starting point for any solutions, with the benefit of innovation and technology going to the most vulnerable sections of society.
The Way Forward
The efforts in Asia to reduce disaster risk are significantly impacted by climate change. It requires a holistic approach that recognizes the link between climate change and disaster risk reduction. As Shaw points out, the way forward is to co-design and co-deliver solutions with communities, recognizing and integrating traditional knowledge and practices. Innovative solutions to the problems caused by climate change and natural disasters, such as heat-reflective paint and AI-based water filtration or refining systems, may change the game. However, it is essential to ensure that these solutions are inclusive and benefit the most vulnerable sections of society.
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