Change and Progress in Disaster Risk Reduction

Abstract: Human-induced climate change is projected to increase the frequency and magnitude of natural hazard events, posing a growing global threat to lives, livelihoods, and assets. Much past research on disaster risk reduction (DRR) has focused on failures of disaster management, while less attention has been devoted to how DRR has changed or improved over time.This dissertation advances our understanding by empirically investigating under what conditions countries can achieve progress in DRR, including measures and policies for managing and reducing the risks of disasters. In that way, it contributes to efforts of sustainable development and climate change adaptation.Article I explores the variety of change and progress under the Hyogo Framework for Action, the international regime for DRR from 2005 to 2015. In addition, the article assesses the prospects of the effectiveness of international environmental regimes built on soft law arrangements consisting of voluntary obligations and non-binding provisions while refraining from sanctions. Article II statistically investigates drivers of progress in DRR for understanding why some countries exhibit positive change. Article III complements the large-scale quantitative analyses of the previous studies with an in-depth case study to unveil the development of DRR policy regimes in two vulnerable countries. The article focuses on Fiji and Nepal as two cases of progress to advance our understanding of how changes in DRR materialised over time.The dissertation makes several contributions to disaster research, theories of institutional and policy change, and development studies. First, this dissertation represents one of a few mixed-methods approaches in DRR research, conducting a comprehensive analysis of progress in DRR. Second, the dissertation systematically documents changes in DRR efforts, which confirms a positive global trend, detects countries that deviate from this trend, and identifies cases of outstanding progress. Third, the three studies highlight the importance of continued participation in and compliance with international regimes, governance effectiveness and accountability mechanisms, continuous leadership and knowledge diffusion, as well as large-scale hazard events for the expansion of DRR. Fourth, the findings demonstrate how positive changes were achieved even under adverse circumstances in developing countries.The findings underscore the need for future research on positive change in DRR, particularly on how accountability mechanisms and regime types may shape policies and policy-making.