Sample Chapter - United Nations University

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Sample Chapter - United Nations University

THE RELEVANCE OF ECOSYSTEMS FOR DRR 9

management communities, which traditionally work independently of

each other. Enhancing national and local capacities to apply integrated

ecosystem and DRR solutions is thus necessary to replicate and scale up

such efforts.

Secondly, DRR and disaster risk management in general are still not

considered within broader development sectoral planning processes with

appropriate budget allocations. As a result, DRR, and especially ecosystem

management, are often sidelined or viewed in direct competition

with other development priorities. Applying ecosystem-based approaches

may require much longer temporal scales to implement and yield tangible

disaster reduction outcomes. On the other hand, policy-makers and

decision-makers are under pressure to show immediate results from their

efforts to protect the public against hazards, which the choice of engineered

structures provides, together with the fact that engineered solutions

also generate financial profits for some stakeholders.

A third challenge is the poor science–policy interactions on ecosystembased

DRR, which have led to unclear and sometimes contradictory scientific

information on the role of ecosystems for DRR. Scientifically

quantifying ecosystem services for DRR (for example in terms of hazard

mitigation or vulnerability reduction) and building a strong economic

case for ecosystem-based approaches remain a challenge and thus a constraint

to informed decision-making on all possible cost-effective DRR

options. Nonetheless, there is now a growing body of knowledge and evidence

base (from science fields and practitioners on the ground) that

eco systems and their services are effective for DRR. This book is a reflection

of this emerging trend in ecosystem-based DRR.

Examining the role of ecosystems in disaster risk reduction

Examples of what works

Disaster risk is generally calculated based on three main variables: the

frequency and magnitude of hazard events, the exposure (of people and

their assets) to hazards, and the underlying vulnerabilities (for example,

ranging from poor building construction to poverty and lack of preparedness).

Sustainable ecosystem management has the potential to influence

all three elements of the disaster risk equation – in terms of regulating

and mitigating hazards, controlling exposure and reducing vulnerability.

Many experiences and scientific studies from around the world point to

these three main benefits of ecosystems for DRR. Some are discussed in

greater detail in this book. First, healthy and well-managed ecosystems

can serve as natural infrastructure to prevent hazards or buffer hazard

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