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Cambridge Global Challenges


Given that 90 per cent of recorded major disasters caused by natural hazards from 1995 to 2015 were linked to weather and climate change, many organisations are now building their capacity to understand what needs to be done differently to integrate adaptation to climate change with their work on disaster risk reduction (DRR). However, it is not always obvious how these two areas can fruitfully connect and operate in tandem within the wider context of development. This course organized by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS, University of Sussex) provides participants with increased knowledge of the concepts and intersections of climate change and DRR, and the approaches, methods and tools that can be used to more effectively integrate climate change in DRR.

The course aims to equip policymakers and practitioners with the knowledge and skills to more effectively integrate disaster risk reduction with adaptation to climate change, in the context of development and poverty reduction.

The course is NOT about disaster response, relief and recovery – its focus is on disaster preparedness and prevention. Participants may have been working in disaster response, but want to shift their emphasis to DRR in the context of climate change.

The course starts from a people-centered approach, with a focus on lives and livelihoods and how people perceive and behave in relation to different types of risk. Based on participatory methods, it promotes practical tools and critical reflection. During the course, participants will draft and develop a work plan that shows how they might influence their organisation to better integrate DRR with climate change adaptation. In doing so, the key question for participants is: ‘What do I need to do differently after I have done this course?’

After completing this course, participants should be able to:

  • Explain the basics of how global warming is affecting extreme events and increasing vulnerability to hazards;
  • Know how to integrate disaster risk reduction with adaptation to climate change, in the context of development and poverty reduction, within their own work;
  • Take a gendered approach to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation;
  • Critically contextualise benefits and constraints of community-based disaster risk reduction and adaptation, taking into consideration the mismatch between people’s livelihood needs and living in dangerous places, and the cultural factors in risk perception that reduce effective DRR.

Course topics include:

  • People’s livelihoods and assets: how different types of risk are perceived and dealt with;
  • Climate change and disaster risk reduction: concepts, causes, and intersections;
  • The social construction of disasters (political, economic, social and cultural processes that make people vulnerable – or not – to natural hazards), and their links with climate change and development;
  • Gender issues in the context of climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness;
  • Assessing vulnerability and capacity: a critical approach to using participatory tools for risk reduction;
  • Early-warning systems and climate-related hazards: understanding limitations;
  • Community-based disaster risk reduction: constraints and benefits

 Teaching team:

  • Terry Cannon - Terry has worked globally with international NGOs and the Red Cross/Red Crescent on disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation. He is co-author of At Risk: Natural hazards, people's vulnerability and disasters, one of the most widely used books on disaster risk. He was lead editor for the IFRC World Disasters Report 2014: Focus on culture and risk.
  • Miguel Loureiro - Miguel convenes the IDS MA Governance and Development, with expertise in state-citizen communication. He co-created the public web portal (RISEPAK), which acted as an earthquake relief coordination and accountability tool for collecting, collating, and displaying information about damage, access, and relief for rural citizens affected by the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.
  • Lars Otto Naess (TBC) - Lars is a social scientist with more than 15 years’ experience working on with climate change, development and agriculture. He was project manager for the recently completed DFID/IDRC Climate Change Adaptation in Africa ‘Research to Policy for Adaptation’, and currently coordinates the Climate Change Theme of the DFID-funded Future Agricultures Consortium.
  • Jeremy Lind (TBC) - Jeremy is a development geographer with over 10 years research and advisory experience on livelihoods in conflict areas and the difficulties of aid delivery in such contexts. He has extensive teaching experience on a range of undergraduate and graduate courses relating to environment, development and conflict. 
  • Frances Seballos (TBC) - With a background in Environment and Development, Frances’s research interests are in the human-environment relationship particularly linked to climate change, development and natural resource management processes. She is also interested in understanding processes that influence behavioural, organisational and policy change in these contexts. 


Please find further information and apply here.


Sunday, 22 January, 2017 - 09:00 to Thursday, 26 January, 2017 - 17:00
Event location: 
Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
Cambridge Global Challenges is a Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing global challenges and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

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