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Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 293;

Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation—A Sustainable Development Systems Perspective

Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, 75126 Uppsala, Sweden
Centre for Research in Sociology, University Institute of Lisbon, 1649-026 Lisbon, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 13 December 2016 / Revised: 14 February 2017 / Accepted: 14 February 2017 / Published: 20 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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This article considers the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development in relation to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. We conceptualize sustainability from a social systemic perspective, that is, from a perspective that encompasses the multiple functionalities of a social system and their interrelationships in particular environmental contexts. The systems perspective is applied in our consideration and analysis of disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation (CCA), and sustainable development (SD). Section “Sustainability and Sustainable Development” introduces briefly sustainability and sustainable development, followed by a brief presentation of the theory of complex social systems (Section “Social System Model”). The theory conceptualizes interdependent subsystems, their multiple functionalities, and the agential and systemic responses to internal and external stressors on a social system. Section “Case Studies of Response to Stressors” considers disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA), emerging in response to one or more systemic stressors. It illustrates these with disaster risk reduction in the cases of food and chemical security regulation in the EU. CCA is illustrated by initiatives and developments on the island of Gotland, Sweden and in the Gothenburg Metropolitan area, which go beyond a limited CCA perspective, taking into account long-term sustainability issues. Section “Sustainable Development as a Societal Development System” discusses the limitations of DRR and CCA, not only their technical limitations but economic, socio-cultural, and political limitations, as informed from a sustainability perspective. It is argued that DRRs are only partial subsystems and must be considered and assessed in the context of a more encompassing systemic perspective. Part of the discussion is focused on the distinction between sustainable and non-sustainable DRRs and CCAs. Section “Concluding Remarks” presents a few concluding remarks about the importance of a systemic perspective in analyzing DRR and CCA as well as other similar subsystems in terms of sustainable development. View Full-Text
Keywords: systems theory; multi-factor model; sustainable development; DRR; CCA systems theory; multi-factor model; sustainable development; DRR; CCA

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Burns, T.R.; Machado Des Johansson, N. Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation—A Sustainable Development Systems Perspective. Sustainability 2017, 9, 293.

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