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Indigenous Responses to Natural Hazard Events

Phibbs, S. & Kenney, C. (2022) Indigenous Responses to Natural Hazard Events. In: McGee, T.K. & Penning-Rowsell, E.C. (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Environmental Hazards and Society (14 p). https://doi.org/10.4324/9780367854584-24


Indigenous peoples and communities are disproportionately affected by environmental hazard events, the catastrophic impacts of which are exacerbated by climate change. Yet, Indigenous communities demonstrate adaptive capacities and sustainable forms of social organisation that facilitate effective culture-based responses to and recovery from environmental disasters. Drawing upon case studies from Aotearoa/New Zealand and Fiji, we advance the argument that Indigenous knowledge and practices pertaining to disaster risk reduction can complement Western scientific knowledge and inform disaster management policies and practices. To that end, United Nations agreements provide important mechanisms for Indigenous people to develop a shared Indigenous disaster risk reduction agenda, through pooling common concerns and organising across nation state borders. While these international policy frameworks recognise the expertise of Indigenous peoples in relation to sustainability, climate change and disaster risk reduction, progress in addressing Indigenous disaster risk reduction priorities is hindered by insufficient attention to Indigenous concerns, inadequate monitoring and evaluation tools and the absence of disaggregated reporting statistics. The under-representation of Indigenous people in disaster policymaking becomes particularly problematic when establishing the acceptability, accessibility and relevance of disaster risk reduction initiatives internationally and domestically. Advancing the Indigenous disaster risk reduction agenda, thus, necessitates strengthening Indigenous governance, workforce capacity and capabilities.

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