Axioms and actions for preventing disasters

Elsevier, Progress in Disaster Science, Volume 2, July 2019, 100008
Ilan Kelman

This paper explores shifting the discourse back to basic axioms of why disasters happen so that fundamental actions for applying the axioms can be provided. It summarises key points which are known from past decades of disaster-related research, policy, and practice, aiming for straightforward communication. As such, this paper aims to minimise jargon which has developed during the recent decades of disaster-related work. For example, rather than expressing exposure as a separate concept, and rather than delineating different risk forms such as extrinsic and intrinsic risk, the core elements of disaster risk are accepted here as being hazard and vulnerability (including exposure). Similarly, rather than phrases such as “disaster risk reduction” and “disaster risk management”, the definitions of which have changed substantially over time, the goal here is articulated as “preventing disasters”, while recognising that this phrase is also not entirely satisfactory.

This paper's material is divided into two core sections, disaster axioms and disaster actions, sandwiched by this introduction and a conclusion for wider discussion. Disaster axioms present a baseline ethos for preventing disasters, partitioned into five statements which are then elaborated. For disaster actions, five adjectives are provided and detailed.