14 June 2011
Reducing the disastrous risks of climate change
International experts have joined Australian researchers, practitioners and policymakers at an industry workshop investigating emergency management and climate change. hosted by RMIT University.
The workshop enabled researchers, practitioners and policymakers to exchange views and experiences on emergency management and risk reduction.
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Featuring global experts in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, the workshop was organised by RMIT’s Centre for Risk and Community Safety on behalf of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) Network on Emergency Management.
Professor John Handmer, Director of the Centre for Risk and Community Safety, said the workshop reflected recent approaches bringing together climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
"There is a trend evident in many research papers and government reports arguing that disaster risk reduction is a fundamental part of adaptation to climate change," Professor Handmer said.
"This is because climate change will be most obvious through changed patterns of climate and weather extremes, and because emergency management provides the conceptual and institutional basis for dealing with the increased uncertainty and complexity accompanying climate change.
"The aim of the workshop was to enable researchers, practitioners and policymakers to exchange views and experiences, and examine what the relationship between emergency management and adaptation could achieve.
"Participants came from an array of contexts, yet themes emerged that provided for learning opportunities for all involved."
The workshop was supported by Victoria’s Office of the Emergency Service Commissioner (OESC), the Australian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC), RMIT's Human Security Program and the Institute for Human Security, United Nations University, Bonn.
It was timed to coincide with the presence in Australia of distinguished international experts, who had gathered to work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on extremes, disaster management and adaptation.
Overseas participants included Joern Birkmann (United Nations University, Bonn), Ian Burton (Toronto), Alan Lavell (Costa Rica), Pascal Peduzzi (United Nations Environment Programme), Mark Pelling (Kings College, London), Sabrina McCormick (US-Environment Protection Agency), Kiyoshi Takahashi (NEIS, Japan), Yasushi Honda (University of Tsukuba, Japan) and Kris Ebi (IPCC).
Australian panel participants included Noami Brown (CEO of AFAC), Richard Thornton (Bushfire CRC), Steve Opper (NSW SES), John Norton (New Zealand/Solomon Islands), Andrew Gissing (Vic SES), Julie Hoy (OESC) and Dr Sandra Schuster of Munich Re.
A report on the themes that emerged from the workshop and some of the presentations given on the day have been made available online.