Social Sciences, Sociology; Systems Theory; multi-factor model; sustainable development; DRR; CCA
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 1 introduces briefly sustainability and sustainable development, followed by a brief presentation of the theory of complex social systems (Section 2). The theory conceptualizes interdependent subsystems, their multiple functionalities, and the agential and systemic responses to internal and external stressors on a social system. Section 3 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 4 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 5 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.