What's New in Knowledge | July 2024

Welcome to the July edition of What's New in Knowledge. Led by AIDR Manager Knowledge Development John Richardson, this monthly blog series collates key research, reports and public interest journalism from across the disaster resilience space.

The World Risk Poll from the Lloyd’s Foundation is a global, nationally representative study of concern about, and harm from, risks to people’s safety. This year’s report suggests that overall global resilience is stable but it does report drops at an individual level in 42 countries, and the proportion of the global population that have experienced disaster has increased by 3% to 30% from 2021 to 2023.

The Averted Disaster Award for 2024 has been announced. This is a celebration of risk reduction activities that work and are focused on what it’s all about, making sure disasters don’t impact people.

 A bold call has been made to extend the Sustainable Development Goals to 2050, rather than abandoning them, citing the shocks of COVID 19 in slowing progress towards achieving them in 2030. The goals require deep transformations in education, health, energy, land use, urban infrastructure and digital platforms, financed and implemented in an integrated manner.

The University of Canberra partnering with DAFF, ANU, Southern NSW Innovation and in conjunction with SGE Planning, have produced a pilot Dashboard for early insights for more resilient communities. This excellent piece of work identifies the things we should be looking for in communities to work out the impact of disaster and how they are recovering. 

The ANU Institute for Climate Energy and Disaster Solutions has led an issues paper that examines planned relocation and calls for a National Relocation Strategy. On the same topic, this article looks at buyouts in the US, and this one on relocation in Fiji.

Our secret weapon against climate change, the actuaries, held their annual summit that focussed on climate change. Key highlights included sessions that focussed on the complex interactions between risks and outcomes with cascading, compounding feedback loops. They recognise the understanding of these is limited, but can see that actuaries can add value through modelling, visualisation tools and the ongoing monitoring of experience. Nice bit of systems thinking.

It’s been a big month in knowledge development and curation at AIDR. We have developed a disability inclusion and disasters collection on the AIDR Knowledge Hub. We have also finalised quick guides for all of the handbooks in the Australian Disaster Resilience Handbooks Collection. Finally, we have also developed What’s New In Knowledge’s own collection on the Knowledge Hub.

In understanding consequences and recovery, this article is a reminder of quality control for data relating to disasters, as missing data can influence and mislead policy making. This paper looks at barriers to long-term recovery from floods in the Appalachians in the US. This article outlines the FORIN approach, looking at a forensic analysis of disasters. This article examines the loss of cultural heritage with a church fire in Canada. This is an interesting article on how unity post disaster in US seems to be fracturing.

Looking at knowledge, this paper looks into misinformation persisting from the Manchester Arena bombing from 2017. While on misinformation, this article looks at climate misinformation and severe flooding events.

In thinking about systemic risk, this article argues that reliance on linear thinking regarding risk has narrowed perceptions of climate risk and allowed us to be caught by surprise with catastrophic events. This paper looks at a holistic approach to evaluating risk to ecosystems. This study examines the economic impacts in agriculture of climate change in three maritime chokepoints, the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, and one of my favourites, the Bosporus in Türkiye. Swiss Re’s SONAR 24 New Risk Insights report examines cascading effects of natural hazards on water, power grids and transport. The Si Network have published a Complexity Theory Key Concepts online course. Great to see researchers tackling multirisk assessments looking at decision-making under deep uncertainty. And here’s some guidelines for the governance of systemic risks.

In disaster risk reduction, this briefing note from the ARC Climate Extremes Centre of Excellence covers the fascinating topic of working with uncertainty in planning and adaptation. This report presents 8 recommendations on the role of government and non-government organisations in early warning systems. This paper from Japan examines the impact of subjective wellbeing on risk perception and disaster preparedness. This paper looks at virtual reality training for earthquake preparedness.

This piece looks at an early warning, early action, early finance platform. Whereas this one also looks at the benefits of early warning systems. This report summarises how the Nature-based solutions opportunity scan supports the identification of NBS investment opportunities, understand the associated benefits and integrate these interventions into projects.

This paper examines household readiness for earthquakes. This paper details the New Zealand Red Cross’ Good and Ready community resilience program. This paper proposes a spatial evaluation framework for urban physical resilience. The US Census Bureau have detailed how their data can help with hurricane responses. The World Economic Forum looks at the short fall in investment in climate adaptation and resilience, and this piece calls for gender responsive financing.

The WEF also looks into the critical role of housing in climate change adaption and disaster risk reduction. This paper examines whether extreme flooding events prompt additional disaster risk reduction activities. This is an excellent ABC long form discussion on the tension between centralised responses and community-based responses.

Focussing on First Nations knowledge, this excellent ABC multimedia piece examines how a remote First Nations community is tackling climate change. Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre’s Story Map highlights the role of traditional knowledge in addressing climate change and extreme weather. In Vanuatu, observing plants and animals helps predict severe weather.

For children and young people, the Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership have released a systemic review of disaster preparedness, management and recovery arrangements in Queensland as they relate to children and young people. This is a teen prep kit from the Red Cross’ Global Disaster Preparedness Centre. YouthMappers is a program that equips university students around the world to use geospatial technology to address local and global climate challenges.

Recognising inequity, the Consortium for Equitable Disaster Resilience has released a research brief on barriers to equitable recovery. Another great report from Kevin Blanchard, this time examining mortality and decision making for gender and sexual minorities in disasters. The time spent by women collecting water may increase by 30% by 2050 as a result of climate change. This report from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network celebrates intersectionality as diversity that creates resilience. This paper examines the impact of climate hazards on older people and effects on healthy ageing.

Looking at weather matters and climate change, this report from the World Meteorological Organization outlines what we all fear, that the 1.5C threshold will be exceeded in the next 5 years. This report examines the connections and impacts of climate change on infrastructure from 1997 to 2022. A variation on the iconic warming stripes image has been produced for American cities by Climate Central.

This discussion paper from the World Bank reviews the current and potential roles of social protection and jobs policies and mechanisms in supporting address the challenges related to climate change. This discussion paper starts the conversation about climate resilient built environment in the European Union. This article examines climate change impacts in the biodiversity hotspot of southwest western Australia. This report details the efforts of 7,500 local governments globally to reduce urban heating. This a clarion call for action on climate change by the fabulous Joelle Gergis.

There’s been a focus on different hazards, this paper looks at land use as a flood control measure in Japan, whereas this looks at the intersectionality of social, economic, demographic and physical considerations influencing household’s decision making regard relocation from flood risk. In the US, flooding is estimated to cost between $179 and $496 billion each year. Imagine what else we could do with that money.  

Tsunami risk awareness among beach users is the focus of this paper. Italy also looks into its tsunami risks. This article looks at how bushfires create their own weather patterns which further fuels the fires. This nature article details how the frequency of bushfires has doubled across the world in the past 20 years. This is an interesting documentary that invites us to reimagine bushfires. This article looks at the paleo-historical record of bushfires in Australia, finding Australia has endured fires equal to or worse that Black Summer. This article looks at rapid detection of bushfires with cube satellites with onboard AI detecting fires from space 500 times faster than traditional on-ground processing of imagery.

In Canada, this paper looks at the complexity of physical, social and cognitive boundaries in cultural and prescribed fire. This piece looks at volcanic eruptions and aviation safety, looking at the notorious Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland in 2010. This piece from CSIRO outlines their drought resilience mission. The UN Office of Outer Space Affairs (now that’s a place I want to work) have released the proceedings of the Preparing for the Solar Maximum Workshop.

AFAC now have a hydrogen awareness training online course. This article asks the question ‘How safe is volcano tourism?’ Landslides also get attention, with Nepal’s landscape risk being monitored by AI systems, and this approach to landslide prediction in Switzerland.

Focussing on extreme heat, this article examines the report from Climate Central, Red Cross, and World Weather Attribution on the number of unusual extreme heat days across the globe in the last 12 months. The global extreme heat event in early June, affecting 5 billion people, is attributed to climate change. Researchers in Singapore built a digital twin of the city to assess urban heat and find ways to cool the city. In Tasmania, UTAS has developed a rapid assessment method and policy framework for improving heatwave resilience.

This report examines the risks of extreme heat at the Paris Olympics. While we are on sport, extreme heat is playing havoc with women’s sport in Pakistan. New fabric for clothing has been developed that reduces temperatures between 2 and 9C. Schools in the US that have never needed Aircon are now facing massive bills to enable teachers and students to cope. This report examines the impact of extreme heat on financial systems. The Hajj heat disaster is detailed in this article, as well as this Conversation article. Access to green space as a social justice issue is examined in this study. Early warning and long-term preparedness are the focus of this article on heat in the UK.

In health, this study finds that bushfire smoke in California has killed over 50,000 people in the last decade. This report looks at the intersection of civil-military cooperation in Germany relating to pandemics. Continuing on with the pandemic theme, this article outlines that despite improvements in WHO regulations, the world remains under prepared for the next pandemic. Ilan Kelman writes on the link between heatwaves, violence and mental health. This sobering piece looks at the toll of climate change on British farmers mental health.

This article looks at the risks to hospitals from climate risks. This policy brief underscores the importance of protecting human health in the EU climate change policies. The Red Cross’ Psychosocial Reference Centre have released their annual report. A couple of reports on climate change impact on newborns and infants, older people, and across the entire lifecycle. This paper looks at COVID and health equity in West Virginia. This Conversation article looks at post-traumatic stress. This article reminds of the Flint water catastrophe This is another article on how to manage climate anxiety.

Looking at governance, leadership and capacity building, this report from the NSW Premiers Department looks into the current state of emergency volunteering. Taking governance to the next level, this paper looks at how the Victorian elections were delivered shortly after the devastating floods. Hint: It helps having a former Red Cross Operations Manager as your ED Corporate Services.  This one looks at the Türkiye Elections. This report looks into the Port of Beirut disaster and reform to disaster governance in Lebanon. This report looks at cross-border risks in the EU.

Examining the frontiers in technology, this paper looks into mobile phone data to monitor food security during and after disasters. Deloitte published a paper on leveraging AI for emergency management. Real time satellite data is improving earthquake warning systems. Microsoft’s AI model Aurora predicts weather and, for the first time, air pollution for the whole world — and does so in less than a minute.

Back in time, this excellent article from the National Museum of Australia looks at the Gundagai floods of 1852 and the efforts of local Wiradjuri men to warn and rescue people.

Did you know, how hail can grow to be so big?

In good news, what we are doing is working, according to the UN. This is something we shouldn’t forget in the daily buffeting of catastrophic news. There is, of course, more to do.

Sources: Horst Kremers, Isabel Cornes, Darryl Glover, Sandy Whight

Compiled by Lexi Barrington and John Richardson