Addressing inter-sectoral linkages and interdependencies: A study of the past disaster events

Alice Yan Chang-Richards, Erica Seville, Suzanne Wilkinson, Hlekiwe Kachali, Joanne Stevenson

Input Paper to the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015


In recent years, economic assets and income potential have seen a rapid increase in exposure to physical hazards. In higher - income countries economic assets and jobs are being created but the risk of losing economic assets and livelihoods from a disaster is increasing. Disasters often disrupt economic activities through the destruction of businesses, homes, communities and infrastructure. Both the disaster itself and the restructuring of economic activities that occurs post - event can fundamentally change the structure of an industry and its relationships with other sectors. The structure of an industry and its connections with other sectors 1 can be fundamentally changed due to the restructuring of economic activities as a consequence of the disaster itself or of the reconstruction (APEC, 2013). The trans - boundary risks inherent in critical industrial sectors therefore have been identified as being major contributors to the vulnerabilities of economy. The UNISDR 2015 Global Assessment Report seeks to investigate how the economic and productive sectoral policies and plans incorporate the indicators of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HF) in the management of disaster risk . The UNISDR aims to provide an evidence base to support the design of the successor arrangement of the HFA. This input paper for the 2015 Global Assessment Report aims to make the case for how public and private agencies can help protect the country’s most vulnerable economic activities and productive sectors to reduce the overall impacts of disasters. As part of this discussion, the paper also discusses the trans - boundary nature of risks between critical economic sectors. The paper further explores what drives economic resilience in order to help decision makers to come up with better strategies and practical tools for getting organisations through times of crisis. This paper aims to explore new methods, good practice, policies and regulations regarding how public and private sectors can work together to contribute to risk reduction in critical economic sectors. The research is based on case studies from Canterbury (New Zealand), Queensland (Australia) and Tohoku (Japan) . The case studies, along with other case studies from Sichuan (China) and Southern Alberta (Canada), draw on Resilient Organisations’ research report prepared for the APEC Natural Disasters Workforce Project (2013) , as well as Resilient Organisations’ longitudinal studies in Canterbury following the 2010/11 earthquakes. This research will draw on evidence from the strategies to reduce risk and the vulnerability of economic activities to natural disasters implemented by government and business es in different countries. The case studies are complemented by a review of literature from the fields of organisational resilience, economic resilience, systems of industrial sectors, economics of natural disasters, social protection and workforce development. 1 In this paper, a group of organisations that operate in the same segment of the economy or share a similar business type are characterised as making up an industry sector.

The questions guiding this research are:

  • What are the different sector vulnerabilities to disasters across different countries?
  • How do sectors differ in their approach to DRR?
  • How do the same sectors in different countries recovery from disasters?
  • How do the inter-dependencies between sectors affect economic recovery and business resilience?
  • What can be done to reduce sector vulnerability and improve business’ DRR activity or awareness?


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