Volume 19 Issue 1, 2004

Sustainability and Disaster Management

Stephen Dovers

Archived Article


Sustainability is a recent, integrative policy agenda often treated as unrelated to disaster management. This paper argues that not only are the two domains related, but are closely connected in terms of substantive issues and of underlying research and policy challenges. The paper examines shared attributes of problems in sustainability and disaster management, and identifies common challenges including: uncertainty; community engagement; integration of social, environmental and economic policy; inter-governmental and—inter-agency coordination; coping with public sector change; broader and deeper spatial and temporal scales; separation of public-private costs and benefits; and enhancing interdisciplinary R&D. The paper recommends closer substantive, R&D and policy linkages between the two fields, informed by an appreciation of where each has engaged in policy experiments that may yield lessons for the other.