resilience reporter

resilience starts with information

Using Good Governance to Mitigate Natural Disasters

Using Good Governance to Mitigate Natural Disasters

What makes a community vulnerable to climate change-intensified natural disasters is not any dearth of technology but a lack of good governance, according to a panel of experts speaking at a roundtable discussion at Duke in DC.

Duke Associate Professor Mark Borsuk and Director of Climate Resilience at the World Resources Institute (WRI) Christina Chan explored issues facing municipal, state and federal governments still reeling from a season of natural disasters. Moderated by Vox climate reporter Umair Irfan, the panel debated definitions, attribution and responses to the next generation of climate policy and how to construct adaptive societies.

Borsuk’s work at Duke devises a risk analysis of climate change and applies financial risk-reward models to climate-affected investments, such as insurance markets and urban development. Chan participated in the US delegation to the Paris Climate Accord negotiations while at the State Department. Now at the World Resources Institute (WRI), Chan focuses on the funding and implementation of international agreements.

“Some of our work at WRI,” said Chan “is looking at where money is coming from and is it actually being channeled to the poorest and most vulnerable, addressing…


The House of the Future Is Elevated

elevated house

“If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding—or will be soon—getting off the ground is the best way to avoid recurring, expensive, and heart-rending damage to your house.” Illustration by Madison McVeigh/CityLab

Three months after Hurricane Harvey churned through Texas, dumping 51 inches of rain and damaging an estimated 150,000 homes, the state’s most populous county took a bureaucratic step that has huge implications for how it will deal with the risk of future flooding.

On December 5, Harris County, which surrounds the City of Houston, approved an overhaul of its flood rules, expanding them from 100-year floodplains—which have a 1 percent change of flooding in a given year—to 500-year floodplains. The new rules (which don’t apply inside Houston city limits) will compel people building houses in some areas to elevate them up to eight feet higher than before…


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