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Urban transformations and changing patterns of local risk: lessons from the Mekong Region

Richard M. Friend (Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET), Bangkok, Thailand)
Pakamas Thinphanga (Thailand Environment Institute, Bangkok, Thailand)
Kenneth MacClune (Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET) – International, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Justin Henceroth (Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET) – International, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Phong Van Gai Tran (Institute for Social and Environmental Transition, Hue, Viet Nam)
Tuyen Phuong Nghiem (Institute for Social and Environmental Transition, Hanoi, Viet Nam)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 9 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to fill a conceptual gap in the understanding of rapidly changing characteristics of local risk, addressing how the notion of the local might be reframed, and how opportunities for multi-scale interventions for disaster risk reduction might be identified.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper illustrates the significance of the systems and services on which urbanization depends – water, food, energy, transport and communications – to consider the cascading impacts at multiple scales often beyond the administrative boundaries of cities, and how vulnerabilities and risks are distributed unevenly across different groups of people.

Findings

The process of rapid urbanization in the Mekong Region represents a fundamental transformation of ecological landscapes, resource flows, livelihoods and demographics. In addition to the location of urbanization, it is these transformative processes and the critical dependence on inter-linked systems that shape the overall picture of urban disaster and climate vulnerability.

Research limitations/implications

By drawing on research and practical experience in two of the most rapidly urbanizing countries in the world, Thailand and Vietnam, the approach and findings have implications for understanding global patterns of urbanization.

Practical implications

The paper contributes to considering practical actions whether in terms of policy or project implementation for both the assessment of disaster and climate risk, and for actions to reduce vulnerability and promote resilience.

Social implications

The paper draws largely from social science perspectives, highlighting the dynamism of social organization in urbanizing contexts, and the implications for risk and vulnerability.

Originality/value

The paper draws on original research in Thailand and Vietnam that takes urbanization as the starting point for assessing vulnerability and risk.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper draws in large part on a series of vulnerability assessments conducted in Thailand and Vietnam as part of the Mekong-Building Climate Resilient Asian Cities (M-Brace) programme, with the generous support of the American people through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Citation

Friend, R.M., Thinphanga, P., MacClune, K., Henceroth, J., Tran, P.V.G. and Nghiem, T.P. (2015), "Urban transformations and changing patterns of local risk: lessons from the Mekong Region", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 30-43. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-08-2014-0061

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited