There has never been a more urgent and opportune time for innovation in the field of disaster risk reduction and community resilience. As the newly released 2018 World Disasters Report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies illustrates, we live in a complex and evolving global risk landscape with ever-more protracted crises, climate change, uncontrolled urbanization, population growth, and the globalization-fuelled circulation of contagious disease. We also live in an era of deepening inequality which directly influences disaster outcomes.
At the same time, we live in era of unprecedented technological advancement and connectivity. We have more data, tools, and technology to power disaster risk solutions than we’ve ever had before. In Canada, we have millennia of accumulated Indigenous Knowledge and more than seventy years of dedicated disaster research to draw on in our practice. Every year, more resilience practitioners and researchers join our field. This issue is a testament to this progress and to the work remaining.
In our Solutions section, read about process innovation, product innovation, and system innovation in Bangladesh, one of most hazard-prone countries in the world. Read about the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance’s innovative projects and tools for measuring community flood resilience. These tools have been used in more than a hundred communities in nine countries.
Innovation requires a more effective research-to-practice connection, a core mission of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network and HazNet, our signature publication. In our Research section, read how the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre in Australia is leveraging research to foster innovation and advance emergency management and community resilience.
New solutions require new partnerships. Read about how British Columbia’s health emergency management leaders joined the World Health Organization and its global partners in a planning exercise to prepare us for the next global public health emergency.
Trust remains paramount to our field of practice, especially in an increasingly information-rich and noisy environment. As a recent Canadian Red Cross survey reveals, Canadians faced with an emergency look for trusted sources, listing local or provincial governments (55%), the Red Cross (40%) and the media (40%) as the top trusted sources.
In our Feature section, we take you on a global tour that highlights some of the inspiring examples of what urban resilience looks like on the ground. Enjoy this exercise in intellectual tourism by visiting Quelimane, Mozambique; Copenhagen, Denmark; Bologna, Italy; Dakar, Senegal; and Bergen, Norway.
In our Policy Section, we explore how to build innovation momentum within a bureaucracy. Read about the Government of Alberta’s strategic and collaborative Public Safety Committee which provides a regular venue for business-as-usual and emergency decision-making. By being embedded in the civil service, this committee can lessen the impact of political changes on long-term policy objectives.
Canada’s diverse geographical and cultural landscape requires strong, innovative regional disaster-risk reduction systems. What works in a large urban metropolitan area may not apply in a small rural or a First Nations community. In this issue, find out how small rural Ontario communities are preparing for climate change through inter-community service collaboration. Read a heartfelt letter by Sonia Denis, the language revitalization assistant at Tahltan, Dease Lake about the community’s responses to a devastating wildfire that forced hundreds to evacuate earlier this year.
Indigenous Knowledge is Canada’s unique opportunity to connect knowledge from past millennia to today’s evolving challenges and emerging solutions. Our cover is a visual demonstration of this potential. This image is a collaboration between Carime Quezada, Ashiele Thomas and myself. Carime is a Vancouver-based Mexican-Canadian artist and HazNet’s illustrator. Ashiele is a young artist from Ahousaht First Nation. The image was produced as part of HazNet’s EMERGENCE program which provides support and a platform to unheard voices in the field of disaster risk reduction and risk communication. As this issue was being finalized, Ashiele’s remote island community declared a state of emergency over threats to its drinking and fire-suppression water supply.
Disasters have no respect for boundaries. That’s why solutions to reduce disasters should not be confined by jurisdictional, bureaucratic, disciplinary, temporal, or social exclusion boundaries. For resilience professionals, our global and local responsibility is to innovate to improve safety. Let’s build unlikely partnerships. Let’s engage in uncomfortable conversations. Let’s plan for graceful failure by building learning organizations that adopt safe-to-fail practices rather that striving for the nearly impossible fail-safe. Let’s focus on inclusive innovation that will increase quality of life, reduce disaster risk, and improve disaster outcomes for every social group in every community. No solutions are truly innovative unless they benefit those who need them most.
We hope you enjoy this issue as much as our HazNet team enjoyed putting it together!