Facilitating social-environmental adaptation in environmental hazards: Towards a universal theory

Douglas Paton, Petra Buergelt

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Worldwide, the number, scale and duration of environmental hazards is projected to increase over the coming decades. With hazards of geological (e.g., seismic, tsunami, volcanic etc.) origin, even if the probability of events stays the same, factors such as population growth and infrastructure development is increasing the risk posed by natural environmental processes to human populations. Climate change will increase the risk posed by meteorological hazards (e.g., hurricanes [cyclones, typhoons], wildfire, flooding) and create progressive environmental change adds to the importance of understanding the social determinants of human adaptation to acute and chronic environmental change. The need for this understanding to be able to transcend national boundaries calls for theories and practices to facilitate sustained adaptation to environmental hazards and change to have universal, or worldwide, applicability. This chapter will discuss this from the perspective of an all-hazards and cross-cultural exploration of how a disaster risk reduction theory based on social-environmental co-existence can inform understanding of how people, individually and collectively, interpret environmental risk and take decisions to manage their risk. The implications of these analyses for the development of a universal theory is discussed, as is the implications of the collective findings for developing and implementing DRR strategies. The latter includes discussion of several social-cultural beliefs and processes that need to be accommodated to use the theory in culturally diverse countries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Environmental Research
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Incorporated
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9781536127898
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


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