Disaster Risk Management and Design

Both design and disaster risk management are agents of transformation, set out to identify, understand and change systems for the better.

The term Design spans fields and scales, from detail adjustments, to products that serve the individual, and systemic innovations that transform societies. At its core, Design is “an agent of change, which can help us make sense of what is happening and turn it to our advantage”. (Alice Rawsthorn, British design critic).

Disaster risk management combines the concepts of prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response to major adverse events. It implements policies and strategies to manage related impacts to current disasters, reduce future disaster risks and minimize the potential for disaster losses.

In combination, disaster risk management and design create powerful tools to meet systemic environmental and social challenges that lead to disastrous events.

In times of dire need for joined forces, transdisciplinary art-science practices must compare notes, share approaches and create empathetic solutions that keep aims and impacts in check, increase protection and strengthen resilience in the face of disaster.

Designing Resilience
Resilience is about “anticipating, planning and reducing disaster risk to effectively protect persons, communities and countries, their livelihoods, health, cultural heritage, socio-economic assets and ecosystems” (UN, 2015).

How can art and design contribute to create a culture of protection and resilience?

The arts do not only comfort when hardship hits, but are in fact crucial to the whole process of managing disaster risk. Creative contributions range from visual and design solutions for hazard assessment and risk analysis, infographics and game solutions for disaster preparedness information and education, to tools and designs for disaster relief, recovery and reconstruction, grief and political activism to address underlying systemic disparities that worsen disastrous outcomes, onto the execution of memorialization of tragedies and storytelling to navigate uncertain futures.