Future Disaster Mitigation
Jonatan A. Lassa
Research Fellow, Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, RSIS, NTU Singapore
Associate Senior Fellow for Institute of Resource Governance and Social Change, Indonesia
The shift in the framing of disaster reduction from a management technicality to problems of governance and institutions suggests a deeper and bigger problems elsewhere especially in the vulnerable countries, including Indonesia. The problem is not the risks and vulnerabilities but the institutions and types of institutionalism that shape the modes of disaster reduction and mitigation that lead to risky and vulnerable development outcomes.
The grand vision of governing disaster risk reduction is that we want to see a safer world in which, when the totality of risks cannot be fully eliminated; the risks are reduced to an acceptable and manageable level that ensures sustainable human security. For this to happen, we expect that governing power (of government, civil society, the market and the communities at risk) work collectively to reduce the vulnerability and risks of climate change and natural hazards. Furthermore, all the stock of risks (of poverty, conflict, epidemic, nuclear, transport accidents, etc.) can be reduced accordingly. While risks are increasing (perceivably, hypothetically and empirically), its distribution has been unequally distributed and contoured according to class, gender, power and different social markers. Tens (to probably hundreds) of papers and books informs this that reinforces this idea.
The rise of disaster governance in mitigation
The sudden increase in the use of governance in conjunction with risk reduction and mitigation suggests that there is a much deeper problem that still persists till today. It is not about the fact that government did not work or ineffective. But it is the vision that begs governments to function better (for the benefit of the society at large) through strong collaboration with the relevant non-state actors. Collective action of the hybrid actors has been the focus of the HFA over the last 10 years.
Governance in this sense refers to how to govern the public affairs through different routes where other actors such as civil society and market, private sectors, media and citizens (informed or not) offer significant complementary roles. Governance refers to style and characters of governing the public affairs. In this context, one long lasting question in disaster risk studies is how government work and/or how to make government work and how governments take the steps to be creative powers that steers the rest of the actors to effectively and efficiently reduce disaster risks?
This session will discuss the following questions:
-In Indonesia context, disaster mitigation emerges from a very technical approach. The disaster mitigation communities barely understood the complexity of the real power required to command action for disaster reduction. In fact, disaster mitigation requires multifaceted efforts and power from the market, civil society and governments. However, governments need higher degree of knowledge and skills in managing the hybrid powers and all the potential actors to work effectively. The interconnected world has been getting more complex where risks and inter-risks dynamics (e.g. impact of climate shocks on supply chain that trigger food prices can easily propagate – to a point where food price cannot be returned to normal and cause widespread welfare lost in households of the poor globally). Climate change has ‘climatized” traditional disaster risks and other development sectors. The question is what government should do today?
-Do we need for a significant re-conceptualisation and reframing of disaster risk and the ensuing disaster mitigation practice?
-How institutions and society change? And how institutions and society change towards sustainable disaster mitigation? These questions are still limited and they are not clearly answered in the disaster studies globally and especially from the context of Southeast Asia.
Background Review Article:
Disaster Risk Governance: Strengthening Collaboration with Non-State Actors, Jonatan A. Lassa, 7 April 2014, RSIS Commentaries.