Throughout the world, major climate-related catastrophic events have devastated lives and livelihoods. These events are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity across the globe, as greenhouse gas emissions continue to accumulate in our atmosphere. The causes and consequences of these disasters are not constrained to geographic and political boundaries, or even temporal scales, increasing the complexity of their management. Differences in cultures, governance and policy processes often occur among jurisdictions in a transboundary setting, whether adjacent nations that are exposed to the same transboundary hazard or across municipalities located within the same political jurisdiction. Political institutions and processes may vary across jurisdictions in a region, presenting challenges to cooperation and coordination of risk management. With shifting climates, risks from climate-related natural hazards are in constant flux, increasing the difficulty of making predictions about and governing these risks. Further, different groups of individuals may be exposed to the same climate hazard, but that exposure may affect these groups in unique ways. Managing climate change as a transboundary natural hazard may mandate a shift from a focus on individual climate risks to developing capacity to encourage learning from and adaptation to a diversity of climatic risks that span boundaries. Potential barriers to adaptation to climate risks must not be considered individually but rather as a part of a more dynamic system in which multiple barriers may interact, impeding effective management. Greater coordination horizontally, for example through networks linking cities, and vertically, across multiple levels of governance (e.g., local, regional, national, global), may aid in the development of increased capacity to deal with these transboundary risks. Greater public engagement in management of risks from climate change hazards, both in risk mitigation and post-hazard recovery, could increase local-level capacity to adapt to these hazards.
Climate Change as a Transboundary Policymaking Natural Hazards Problem
Funding Flows: Transboundary Considerations of Disaster Recovery
Scholars agree that the impact of a disaster in a globalized world increasingly extends beyond political and geographical boundaries, creating transboundary disaster events. Though not all disasters fit the description of a transboundary event, many embody transboundary characteristics. For instance, national and transnational financing and other resources directed toward postdisaster humanitarian relief and long-term reconstruction efforts can also create transboundary flows that cross political and geographical lines. Rebuilding after physical damage and economic losses during a disaster, the impacts of which are disproportionately higher in the poorest countries, is a costly endeavor that requires multiple sources of finance. Depending on the scale and visibility of the disaster and local capacities, financial arrangements, resources, and assistance can come from a variety of sources including the government, international institutions, and private-sector, and nongovernmental, and civil society organizations. In particular, transnational financing from bilateral donors and international financial institutions, which constitute multilateral and bilateral streams of financing for postdisaster recovery, comprise a significant percentage of recovery funding globally. Such flows, although inherently transboundary, are not well understood as a phenomenon within the transboundary disasters literature. Three major types of agencies provide funding for postdisaster reconstruction including multilateral development banks (MDBs), also referred to as international financial institutions (IFIs); bilateral development agencies within donor countries; and United Nations (UN) development agencies. MDBs such as the World Bank are created by a group of countries that utilizes pooled contributions from national governments and additional resources, such as interest collected from loans, to finance development projects. Bilateral development agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development are institutions established by individual countries to provide development funding to nation-states; they work closely with IFIs. Numerous questions about transnational financing for postdisaster recovery as an important component of the transboundary disaster literature remain unanswered and need further insights. What are the links among transnational stakeholders (i.e., MDBs, bilateral donors, UN agencies, and international nongovernmental organizations) and transboundary financial arrangements for postdisaster recovery? What are the aggregate impacts of transboundary financing on postdisaster reconstruction? How do transboundary financing flows occur among bilateral donors, MDBs, and local and international nongovernmental organizations? Where can scholars find data sets on postdisaster transnational financing? How does transboundary financing impact postdisaster recovery governance in recipient countries? The current state of knowledge on transboundary financing of postdisaster recovery provides some guidance on best practices and the challenges with coordinating and monitoring.
Natural Hazards Governance in Western Europe
Florian Roth, Timothy Prior, and Marco Käser
Western Europe is an area dominated by established democratic governments, backed by strong economies, for the most part. Drawing on refined technical risk analyses, preventive measures, and comprehensive resources for emergency response, countries from Western Europe have managed to mitigate the most prevalent and recurring hazards. Over the centuries, European governments have been successful in reducing the death toll related to natural phenomena. This has been achieved by addressing all three dimensions of the risk triangle—hazards, exposure, and vulnerability. However, cultural and political differences result in subtle, but distinct differences in the context of natural hazard governance. While these differences can be considered a strength in dealing with local hazards under specific contexts, they can complicate effective and coordinated prevention, preparedness, and response measures toward large-scale hazards. This is especially the case with transboundary hazards, the regional response to which has strongly influenced hazard governance in Western Europe. Evolving risk circumstances have resulted in constant adaptations in hazard governance in the region, including local, national, and transboundary arrangements, and a more recent re-localization in the face of new complex threats that has fallen under the umbrella of resilience building.
Collective Choices Affecting Natural Hazards Governance, Risk, and Vulnerability
Thomas Thaler, David Shively, Jacob Petersen-Perlman, Lenka Slavikova, and Thomas Hartmann
The frequency and severity of extreme weather events are expected to increase due to climate change. These developments and challenges have focused the attention of policymakers on the question of how to manage natural hazards. The main political discourse revolves around the questions of how we can make our society more resilient for possible future events. A central challenge reflects collective choices, which affect natural hazards governance, risk, and individual and societal vulnerability. In particular, transboundary river basins present difficult and challenging decisions at local, regional, national, and international levels as they involve and engage large numbers of stakeholders. Each of these groups has different perspectives and interests in how to design and organize flood risk management, which often hinder transnational collaborations in terms of upstream–downstream or different riverbed cooperation. Numerous efforts to resolve these conflicts have historically been tried across the world, particularly in relation to institutional cooperation. Consequently, greater engagement of different countries in management of natural hazards risks could decrease international conflicts and increase capacity at regional and local levels to adapt to future hazard events. Better understanding of the issues, perspectives, choices, and potential for conflict, and clear sharing of responsibilities, is crucial for reducing impacts of future events at the transboundary level.
Transboundary Disasters and Non-Governmental Organizations
In an increasingly interconnected world, the impacts of disasters and subsequent disaster relief and response operations are often no longer confined to directly affected communities, regions, or countries. Traditional geographical, sectoral, and policy-related boundaries are progressively becoming more blurred, and increasingly, there are more transboundary disasters—disasters that cross geographical, political, and functional boundaries and that affect multiple policy domains. Examples of transboundary disasters include the 2004 and 2011 tsunamis, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the Ebola outbreak. Responses to transboundary disasters typically require the concerted efforts of various governments, intergovernmental organizations, private entities, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working together. Although NGOs have been key responders, not enough attention has been paid to their role amid the constellation of various actors responding to transboundary disasters. There are many different types of NGOs, including those that have been less visible, such as diaspora NGOs, that aid in transboundary disasters. NGO assistance in transboundary disasters assumes various forms, ranging from disaster relief in the form of medical assistance, food, water, and supplies to aid affected populations for rebuilding and reconstruction in disaster-affected areas. NGOs also play a critical role in responding to transboundary disasters by aiding displaced populations in host communities and providing an array of services—from helping find accommodations and schools to providing social support and case management services. While NGOs can be effective and trustworthy transnational players in transboundary disasters, effectively bringing in resources, their participation also has its challenges and limitations. To counter these challenges, transboundary management coordination needs to be increased, along with building capacities of transnational and local civil society organizations. The power of diaspora NGOs can also be harnessed more effectively in disaster response and recovery.