Wednesday, October 17, 2012

IGU in Kyoto: Indigenous disaster session

I've put an abstract in for next years IGU conference in Kyoto...

Indigenous responses to hazards and disaster: risk, recovery, and resilience

"Recent disasters around the Pacific’s ‘Ring of Fire’ have emphasised the risks all inhabitants face from ever-present natural hazards and their recurring disasters. Several events stand out for the scale of destruction and the severity of disruption to affected communities: tsunamis in Japan (2011) and Samoa (2009), and a series of earthquakes in Christchurch (2010-11). Climate change is expected to exacerbate flooding and bushfire hazards in Australia and sea-level rise is a daunting challenge for the Pacific Islands.

Indigenous communities often find themselves more at risk to such hazards through histories of marginalisation, discrimination and poverty despite these communities possessing extensive knowledge of local hazards and maintaining collective memories of past disasters. This session aims to bring together aspects of Indigenous knowledge relevant to reducing exposure and surviving disasters. Contemporary experiences will also be examined for response and recovery approaches. In particular attention will be drawn to the increasing urbanisation of Indigenous communities which exposes them to new and emerging risks."

The conference theme is leveraged off an old Japanese whakatauki - on-ko chi-shin - evidently taken from a Chinese one (wengu zhixin) that says only by exploring the old can we understand the new. Understanding how traditional ideas, linked to interaction between society/culture and the environment, were formed in different countries and regions will be fundamental to future development. This works well with our earthquake research and I'm really excited to have the opportunity to take this offshore.

A panui will be coming out from organiser Brad Coombes. We have an optional hikoi of Ainu ventures which I hope to go on but time and budget are always tight. Anyone interested in being involved, please get in touch.

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Simon Lambert

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