Coping better with extreme events
Bridging the gap between finance and sustainability - image credit: Fabian Jones

Coping better with extreme events

Sustainability is not just about mitigation (actions that reduce future risks). In some cases the challenge is much more immediate, we also need to invest in adaption. Helping us to cope with events that are happening now.

At a time when our press coverage is dominated by wildfires (and it will be flood and hurricane season soon) it's worth remembering that sustainability is not just about mitigation (actions that reduce future risks). In some cases the challenge is much more immediate, we also need to invest in adaption. Helping us to cope with events that are happening now.

Some adaption requires material capital investment, managing forests to reduce fire risk, building flood and tidal protection infrastructure, constructing dams to provide water, and dredging our waterways. But adaption is also about being prepared, having systems and structures in place that help when disasters happen.

As extreme events become more commonplace, we need to get better at helping people cope during the disaster, and getting their lives back on track afterwards. This means improving our disaster response. Where can people go if their house/hotel is at risk of storms, flooding or fire? Is the base for the emergency services secure and accessible? And where can people obtain useful information and basics such as electricity for their phones?

Plus, after the disaster, do we have a hub that the communities can use to support the recovery - everything from offices for support services and insurance claims teams, through to somewhere that food, electricity and water can be stored and distributed.

One important element of this improved response are what are known as resilience hubs. And we need to stop thinking about them as wasted money if we don't use them. And start thinking instead that these are facilities we will be really pleased we have when disaster strikes.


The UN estimates that climate adaptation spending, just in developing countries, could reach $300bn by 2030. This is on top of the tens of billions being spent by national and regional governments in developed countries. This covers a range of investment themes, including construction of flood defences, building resilience into our essential services, and enhancing disaster responses.



The details


Summary of a story from RMI on Weathering Climate Disasters with Resilience Hubs

  • Resilience hubs are physical, community-serving facilities that support residents, distribute needed resources, reduce carbon pollution, and enhance quality of life. Resilience hubs offer local governments a powerful means of supporting vulnerable populations before, during, and after an extreme weather event or other disasters. Depending on the needs of the communities where hubs are located, they can support resilience across five foundational areas — ensuring reliable power, coordinating communication, providing dependable facilities, managing operations, and offering valuable services and programming.

  • Enhancing energy efficiency at a resilience hub can increase “hours of safety” — a measurement of how long a building can maintain a safe, comfortable temperature when the power goes out. Resilience hubs with solar and storage can be especially impactful for disadvantaged communities. In the case of Storm Uri (Texas 2021) low-income communities who did not live on “critical circuits” with hospitals or other critical infrastructure experienced longer power outages — some up to four days — as the limited power available was prioritized elsewhere.

This post is for subscribers only

Subscribe
Already have an account? Log in