UN welcomes Trump commitment to resilient infrastructure

The Oroville Dam’s structural weakness and the forced evacuation of 200,000 people living in its shadow has seen renewed interest in President Trump’s campaign promise to invest in resilient infrastructure across the United States. The White House spokesperson, Sean Spicer, raised the issue last week when he said the Oroville dam situation “is a text book example of why we need to pursue a major infrastructure package in Congress. Dams, bridges, roads and all ports around the country have fallen into disrepair.

Scientific evidence: Generated today, ignored tomorrow

Habitat III (The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development) in Quito, Ecuador, took place from 17-20 October. It brought together over 35,000 participants to discuss sustainability, inclusiveness, and resilience in cities. While the text was adopted at the UN General Assembly in September, Habitat III shifted the focus on to implementation.

New Orleans acts on disaster risk awareness for private sector

New Orleans, the epicentre of Hurricane Katrina, is engaging with its private sector to improve disaster risk awareness as part of its overall strategy for improving resilience to disasters and facilitating rapid recovery after an event. A survey  published today of 208 New Orleans-based small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs), the majority located below sea level, has found vulnerability remains high and less than half of survey respondents have an emergency plan in place.

Human migration as climate change adaptation strategy

Recently, global temperature records have been tumbling with alarming frequency, and we are seeing a significant increase in extreme weather events. While there have been many reports focussing on the economic implications of these events, it is important to remember that climate impacts are most keenly felt by people themselves. The lives of those affected by climate change are often forever changed in the experience.

2015 disasters in numbers

This infographic presents the disaster trends in 2015 linked to natural hazards. According to the analysis, there were 346 reported disasters in 2015, 22,773 people dead, 98.6 million people were affected by those disasters and US$66.5 billion of economic damages. The top five most disaster-hit countries were China (26), USA (22), India (19), Philippines (15) and Indonesia (11).


Adaptation in USA: As temperatures rocket, cities fight heat waves

Heat waves may tire all of us out — and not in just New York City. In the coming decades, heat waves will be longer, more frequent and more intense in many parts of the country, according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment. This summer alone, extreme heat has killed grape pickers in California fields and hikers in Arizona. At least four people died of heat-related illnesses in El Paso, Texas, where the city saw 16 days in a row of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, the third-longest stretch ever.

Five years after Hurricane Irene, Vermont still striving for resilience

With no ocean coastline, Vermont might have seemed an unlikely candidate to be devastated by a hurricane five years ago, and to most, Irene was an entirely forgettable storm. Its memory is eclipsed for many by Sandy, which followed a year later. Irene was actually only a hurricane for a brief stretch over distant North Carolina. Its winds dwindled once it made landfall. But while winds and storm surge make hurricanes so telegenic, what made this one so destructive was rain.

New school education resources focus on early intervention

New and improved school education pages on the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) website provide a suite of fun and engaging resources to teach children about hazards. The new webpages include classroom lesson plans, teaching resources and interactive activities on fire, natural hazards, and safety and emergency prevention for children.

FEMA seeks to move construction away from flood zones

Obama administration emergency managers are proposing to toughen the requirements for federally funded construction projects to try to make flood-prone communities more resilient to the increased risks of flooding expected to be caused by global warming. The Federal Emergency Management on Monday proposed the rules, which would require federally funded construction to take place on higher ground, further from floodplain areas.

In the face of disaster

Resilient communities are just as important as resilient infrastructure

What does it take to prevent or mitigate the impact of natural disasters? For many, disaster resilience is all about better infrastructure, efficient early warning systems, and stronger institutions. While those aspects are obviously crucial, we shouldn’t overlook the role of communities themselves in preparing for and responding to disasters. After all, the success of both preparedness and recovery efforts depends largely on local residents' ability to anticipate risk, on their relationship with local and national authorities, and on the way they organize themselves when disaster strikes. In the aftermath of a catastrophe, rebuilding not just the physical environment but also the livelihoods of people is also essential, including through effective social protection systems and safety nets.