Interconnected Risks, Cascading Disasters and Disaster Management Policy: A Gap Analysis

Mika Shimizu, Allen L. Clark


Today it is increasingly recognized that disasters are “cascading†in nature i.e. the impact within one network/area of a disaster may impact on several related networks resulting in what is a “network of networks†disaster. For the near future, the world will need to consider an even more complex and interconnected next generation of disasters i.e. “global network†disasters resulting from the coupling of different kinds of systems. So far, governments, disaster management organizations, communities, business and civil society have made significant advances in improving preparedness, early warning, response, recovery programs  and in the adoption and implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) policies and programs. However, the decadal trends and the best available science all clearly indicate that geophysical, meteorological, biological, technological and human induced disasters are increasing in intensity (also many in frequency), complexity (interconnected, synergistic and cascading), uncertainty (future new events). Further, these multiplying risk factors are interacting with an ever more complex set of physical, social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities and at rates that nations, societies and commerce are ill- prepared to deal with in terms of “gaps†in existing governance and institutional capacities. To narrow the gaps, the paper provide comparative analysis of the Tohoku and Katrina disasters highlighting specific issues that arose, their resulting impacts and the adequacy of the response/s in terms of existing governance, policy and institutional structures.


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