Research and Social Implementation of Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction as Climate Change Adaptation in Shrinking Societies

  1. FS①
  2. PR
  3. FR①
  4. FR②
  5. FR③
  6. FR④
  7. FR⑤

2018

PL Photo Project Leader

YOSHIDA Takehito

RIHN/The University of Tokyo

Takehito Yoshida is an ecologist and limnologist who studies diversity and complexity of organisms and ecosystems from the viewpoints of adaptation and system dynamics, and explores human-nature interactions and sustainability in local communities in Japan. Trained in Kyoto University (PhD) and Cornell University (postdoc), he was a member of the faculty at the University of Tokyo at Komaba before jointly appointed at RIHN and the University of Tokyo.

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Researchers at RIHN
HUANG, WanhuiResearcher
NISHIDA TakaakiResearcher
NAKAI MinamiResearch Associate
SENDA MasakoResearch Associate
SHIMAUCHI RisaResearch Associate
Main Members
AKIYAMA YukiThe University of Tokyo
FUKAMACHI KatsueKyoto University
FURUTA NaoyaTaisho University / IUCN
HASHIMOTO ShizukaThe University of Tokyo
ICHINOSE TomohiroKeio University
MIYOSHI IwaoKyoto Prefectural University
NISHIHIRO JunToho University
SAITO OsamuUnited Nations University
SHIBASAKI RyosukeThe University of Tokyo
SHOJI TaroToho University
TAKI KentaroThe University of Shiga Prefecture
UEHARA MisatoShinshu University
URASHIMA HirokoMS&AD Insurance Group Holdings, Inc.

Outline of the project

The rate of natural disaster occurence has been increasing, partly due to contemporary climate change, and adaptation to natural disaster risks is increasingly important to the sustainability of human societies. At the same time, many societies are experiencing shrinking populations. Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) takes advantage of the multi-functionality of ecosystems and biodiversity, including their capacity to mitigate natural disasters while providing multiple ecosystem services, and population decline provides ample opportunity for implementing Eco-DRR. Our project will develop practical solutions for implementation of Eco-DRR by visualizing natural disaster risks, evaluating multi-functionality of Eco-DRR solutions, conducting transdisciplinary scenario analysis, examining traditional and local knowledge of disaster risk reduction, and collaborating with the insurance industry and other sectors.

Background and goals

Figure 1 Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction not only lowers disaster risks but also receives benefits of ecosystem services by reducing the exposure of human activities in high-hazard locations and supporting human activities in low-hazard places.

Figure 1 Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction not only lowers disaster risks but also receives benefits of ecosystem services by reducing the exposure of human activities in high-hazard locations and supporting human activities in low-hazard places.

Climate change impacts natural and human systems and is projected to intensify in the future. Our project focuses on natural disasters, and it aims to contribute to risk reduction and management strategies. Climate change or natural disaster risks result from the interaction between a climate-related hazard, and the exposure and vulnerability of human activities (Fig. 1), so that adaptation to natural disaster risk can be realized by reducing exposure (e.g. by improving land use) and vulnerability to hazards.

Hard-engineering natural disaster countermeasures have target safety levels, below which natural disasters can be prevented. Although these countermeasures are effective if the hazard level of natural disaster is below the target safety level, we are increasingly faced with situations in which hazard levels exceed safety levels, resulting in devastating natural disasters. Eco-DRR approaches focus on lowering the exposure of human activities to natural hazards, so reducing, if not preventing, associated losses and damages. Eco-DRR approaches, meanwhile, take advantage of the multi-functionality of ecosystems, so complementing conventional approaches to natural disaster management, although the effectiveness and multi-functionality of Eco-DRR is not yet clearly and quantitatively understood.

Japan’s population is aging and shrinking, leading to the abandonment of farmlands, houses and decreases in other intensive land uses, a challenging circumstance that nevertheless provides an opportunity for improving land use. The population of Japan increased substantially over the last century, increasing the risk of and public exposure to natural disasters. Evaluating past natural disaster risks therefore provides valuable information of adaptation strategies considered in Japan as well as in other countries.

Given this background, the ECO-DRR Project sets two main goals: first, it develops methodologies to evaluate Eco-DRR multi-functionality and assess Eco-DRR by comparing multi-functionality between the past, the present and the future. Secondly, the Project supports Eco-DRR implementation through transdisciplinary collaborations with local communities, governments, insurance industry and other stakeholders.

Research objectives

Three research components contribute to achieve the above two goals.

  1. (1) Visualizing the risks of natural disasters in the present and the past
  2. The exposure and vulnerability associated with different natural disasters will be analyzed, and the risks evaluated and visualized as risk maps of the present and past. Modeling risk for the different exposure scenarios will contribute to future Eco-DRR assessments and plans.

  3. (2) Evaluating and modeling multi-functionality of Eco-DRR
  4. Provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services will be evaluated, and their spatial distribution will be modeled in relation to population and land use. The model will be used for evaluating the ecosystem services for different land use scenarios.

  5. (3) Transdisciplinary scenario analysis and developing social and economic incentives of Eco-DRR
  6. Together with local communities and governments, transdisciplinary platforms will be formed at research sites to deepen understanding, discuss future options, and build consensus around Eco-DRR approaches. Transdisciplinary scenario analysis will be conducted in consideration of climate change and shrinking population. In addition, traditional and local knowledge of disaster risk reduction will be inventoried and evaluated for multi-functionalities shared in the platform.

In collaboration with the insurance industry, a research forum will be formed to discuss the possibility and feasibility of insurance industry-led contributions to and economic incentives for Eco-DRR. The research forum will also assess various laws and institutions in national and local governments related to disaster risk reduction and land use.

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Photo 1 Mikatagoko area in Fukui Prefecture, one of the research sites.

Photo 1 Mikatagoko area in Fukui Prefecture, one of the research sites.

Photo 2 Hira mountains and their base area in Shiga Prefecture, one of the research sites. Photo courtesy of MATSUI Kimiaki.

Photo 2 Hira mountains and their base area in Shiga Prefecture, one of the research sites. Photo courtesy of MATSUI Kimiaki.

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