Bushfire in a town

Who should govern environmental disasters, and how?

Effective governance for extreme weather events
As global warming rapidly heats up our planet, the likelihood and frequency of environmental disasters caused by extreme weather events - from bushfires to floods - rises substantially. But are we equipped to manage these disasters?

Bushfires, hurricanes, life-threatening heatwaves and floods have ravaged our planet in recent years. There is a mounting pool of evidence that climate change, including global warming, is a major cause of these extreme weather events.

This Sydney Ideas event brings together scholars working on environmental disasters from a range of disciplines, issue areas, and countries to grapple with the following questions: what we need to do to govern such disasters effectively? Who should govern environmental disasters and how?

To create an effective governance framework we need to be sensitive to local conditions and to recognise the commonalities of addressing such disasters globally.

Are there gaps in environmental disaster governance and can we ensure that attempts to address environmental disasters also protect people and ecosystems who are in the danger zones, in both the short term and the long term?

This event was part of the Environmental Disasters Symposium (21-22 November), a collaboration between Sydney Social and Humanities Advanced Research Centre, Sydney Environment Institute and the University of Sydney Office of Global Engagement.


Linda combines research and postgraduate supervision at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization at Deakin University. She is one of 25 chief investigators on the six-university ARC Centre for Excellence in Electromaterials Science (2015-21).

Her current research focuses on: ethics and policy related to the analysis of power and interests in public policy; ethical issues concerning materials used in fossil fuel and renewable energy (RE); critical infrastructure;  just/ethical energy transitions; ethical security analysis of transnational energy supply chains; circular economy; and energy system disaster resilience.

Susan is Professor of Global Governance and a research affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney. She focuses on how state and non-state actors use formal and informal influence to make the Multilateral Development Banks greener and more accountable.

Susan has published in numerous journals, most recently in the Review of International Political Economy. Her latest book is International Organisations and Global Problems: Theories and Explanations (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Susan is an Associate Editor of the journal Global Environmental Politics and is Co-Convenor with Dr Teresa Kramarz (University of Toronto) of the Earth Systems Governance (ESG) Task Force ‘Accountability in Global Environmental Governance.’ 

Francisco is a researcher at CIGIDEN, Research Centre for Integrated Disaster Risk Management and co-founder of Estado Local. He holds a PhD in Human Geography (Kings College London), a master in Anthropology and Development (University of Chile) and a first degree in Sociology (Diego Portales University).

Since 2007 he has been doing research in the Chilean Altiplano with Atacamenian communities and since 2016, with Mapuche Lafkenche communities in the Budi Lake (Southern Chile). Currently he is working in the way local knowledge dialogues with current structures oriented to disaster risk reduction (DRR) in Chile and developing research that analyses the relation between socionatural disasters regarding water and the way local knowledge emerge, through an ethnography of everyday experiences with nature.

Abbas is a writer and an academic. He is Professor of Environmental Engineering at the School of Civil Engineering, University of Sydney, where he runs the GeoEnvironmental Laboratory. He is chief investigator on several Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery and Linkage grants and has published widely on soil hydrology, carbon cycle in soils and vulnerability to climate change. 

Abbas advises the Environmental Defenders Office and contributes regularly to print and audio-visual media. His memoir, Leave to Remain, was published in 2010 and won a NSW Premier literary award. His latest book, The Secret Maker of the World, is a collection of short stories published by the University of Queensland Press.

Event image: Photo by Michael Held on Unsplash

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