Learning to co-exist with environmental hazards: Community and societal perspectives and strategies

Douglas Paton, Petra T. Buergelt, Andrew Campell

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapter

9 Citations (Scopus)


Interaction between human activity (e.g., population growth, social and infrastructure development) and environmental change (e.g., climate change) is resulting in societal risk from environmental hazards steadily increasing. Recognition of a more whole-of-society approach to risk management has resulted in a progressive shift from top-down mitigation and response strategies to those focusing on community-based disaster risk reduction (DRR). The latter increasingly emphasizes shared responsibility (between society and community) as a core platform for DRR. This chapter argues that realizing the benefits of this approach include changing how people and communities relate to their environment and its hazardous potential. It discusses a need for the prevailing community and societal environmental focus on the economic, livelihood and amenity values afforded them by their environment to be complemented by one that accommodates learning to co-exist with the hazardous characteristics of their environment. It will discuss how a challenge to this process is the uncertainty and complexity of hazardous circumstances. This chapter outlines the hazard and environmental (natural and built) sources of this uncertainty and its implications for developing DRR strategies that facilitate co-existence and adaptive capacity. The chapter then discusses the personal, community and community-agency relationships and competencies that influence the development of a sustained capacity to co-exist with hazards. The chapter concludes with offering suggestions for putting these ideas into practice.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Environmental Research
PublisherNova Science Publishers Inc
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781634830065
ISBN (Print)9781634829694
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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