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CPSA/ISA-Canada section on International Relations

C21(b) - Foreign Policy Approaches to Human-made and Natural Disasters

Date: Jun 6 | Time: 03:15pm to 04:45pm | Location: SWING 306

Chair/Président/Présidente : Jérémie Cornut (Simon Fraser University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Jérémie Cornut (Simon Fraser University)

Governance for Resilience: Canada and Global Disaster Risk Reduction: Rosalind Warner (Okanagan College)
Abstract: International attention to disaster risk reduction has been growing, and the international community's responses have evolved since the issue arose in 1990 with the United Nations International Decade for Disaster Risk Reduction. Canada has been closely involved, most recently through its participation in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) which saw the launch of the Sendai Framework, designed to guide the world’s responses to disaster from 2015-2030. The global character of disasters has been affirmed by the introduction of the Global Assessment Report, and by the establishment of the Sendai Monitor, intended to assess global risks and to monitor progress toward achievement of the goals of the Sendai Framework. A key shift of the Sendai Framework is the priority to move toward ‘disaster risk governance’ rather than disaster management. This suggests a shift toward resilience-based rather than relief-based governance and assistance models. As Disaster Risk Reduction becomes more integrated into the Sustainable Development Goals, it will theoretically blur the boundary between ‘relief’ and ‘development’ activities and policies. This paper will analyze the implications of this blurring for Canada’s international assistance policies. In the process, the work will review the history, development, and outcomes of Canada’s involvement in the global Disaster Risk Reduction process, with particular focus on Canada’s contribution to resilience-based governance. It will evaluate Canada’s progress toward the support of resilience-based governance as demonstrated through recent examples of disaster assistance responses, policies and programs.


Climate Change and Canada’s Security Interests: Wilfrid Greaves (University of Victoria)
Abstract: Human-caused climate change poses direct and indirect threats to Canada’s security interests, all of which will worsen throughout this century as climate change becomes increasingly apparent and damaging. Re-engaging the decade old contributions to this topic in light of the most recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this paper examines three distinct sets of climate change-related security threats to Canada. First are direct climate related threats to Canadians and Canadian territory in the form of extreme weather events, changing landscapes and ecological systems, and human health impacts. Second are indirect climate related threats to Canadian national security as a result of environmentally induced migration, growing scarcity of essential resources, notably fresh water, and the vulnerability of the Canadian economy to climate-related risks. Third are the global impacts of climate change that are destabilizing strategic regions of the world in which the Canadian Armed Forces are actively deployed or in which Canada has important national interests. This paper responds to the call for International Relations scholars to more directly engage with the political implications of climate change, and to help explicate the local, national, and international security implications of a climate changed future.


International Order and the Politics of Disaster: Scott Watson (University of Victoria)
Abstract: This paper examines the prospect for international order in the context of worsening disasters, due in part to climate change, population growth, and economic inequality. This paper suggests that disasters expose tensions and contradictions in the existing international order, disrupting routine political and economic activity at the global level. In contrast to theories of international order that rely on a single underlying principle (a liberal international order) this paper depicts the international order as heterogenous - composed of contradictory and complimentary belief systems about the sources and ends of social order. In this context, disaster management regimes should be viewed as order-sustaining mechanisms - designed to maintain an international order that legitimizes (indeed requires) environmental degradation, a state-based division of responsibility for protection, prioritization of scientific over traditional forms of disaster management, and a voluntaristic/charitable model of humanitarian assistance that precludes meaningful action and allocation of responsibility.