Climate-smart disaster risk reduction

Laws and regulations are essential to reducing existing risks posed by natural hazards, preventing new risks from arising and making people safer.

Building and construction laws, for example, may contain minimum standards designed to make buildings more resilient to local hazards, while land use and planning laws may restrict new development in areas that are highly prone to natural hazards. In 2015, IFRC Disaster Law and the United Nations Development Programme launched The Checklist on Law and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR Checklist) and its accompanying guide, The Handbook on Law and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR Handbook), to provide practical guidance on this area of law.

The DRR Checklist provides a prioritised list of ten key questions that lawmakers, implementing officials and those supporting them need to consider to ensure that their laws provide the best support for disaster risk reduction. It is designed to serve as an assessment tool to guide a review of national and local level laws and regulations. The DRR Handbook supports the Checklist, by providing further guidance on how to answer the DRR Checklist questions including issues to consider, a rationale for each question, a list of the types of laws that need to be reviewed to answer the questions, and examples of good practice from different countries.

In the period 2019-2021, IFRC Disaster Law conducted a global research project in partnership with the UCC School of Law (Cork, Ireland) for the identification of successful practices and/or main challenges in the adoption of legislative improvements strengthening climate and disaster resilience. The project has received funding from the Irish Research Council and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 713279, and additional financial support was provided by the German Government.

Following a ‘Literature Review on Aligning Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)’ consolidating existing knowledge on the topic, four country case-studies were conducted in different continents (Fiji/Pacific Island CountriesPhilippinesDominica and Kenya). These documents provided informed insights and original analysis on relevant normative advancements, assessing the actual impact of more integrated law and policies on CCA-DRR at different levels, and identifying suitable models for reducing vulnerabilities of the most at-risk. Building on them, a final Global Synthesis Report has been published, consolidating main findings and providing a list of key recommendations for law- and policy-makers.