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Volume 10
Issue 3 

At the WCDRR in Sendai, Japan, this March (p4), it as striking how – in the space of around a decade – the holistic nature of disaster risk reduction has been so widely embraced. The breadth of organisations involved has grown dramatically, as has the diversity of the NGOs and sectors represented. Health, finance and economics, science and technology, education, heritage, food security – as well as the private sector, businesses, communities and many more – are now all actively engaged.

The theme of partnerships and involvement, both in response and preparedness, runs through this issue. In the face of today’s risks and threats, no sector, discipline or individual should be ignored, or choose to be excluded.

Agreed, this can sometimes make for slightly uncomfortable bedfellows, as is evident from our civil-military feature. The humanitarian and military sectors have increasingly been sharing the same operational space in large scale crises and this can be an uneasy relationship. Each must work out how to co-operate and fulfill its own mission or mandate without endorsing or jeopardising the safety of the other, or blurring the delineations between military and humanitarian action.

Our cyber security feature also highlights evolving partnerships, especially those between government and private sector entities that might be targets. On p39 Andy Marshall questions what parameters should be set for the plethora of responding organisations during a cyber attack that affects a community or region. The authors on p50 call for co-operation to be enshrined on an international scale. And on p52 Todd Rosenblum spans both features, describing the dynamic between the military and state emergency responders, then making the case for bringing the private sector into a new ‘war cabinet’ to ensure the US can respond to a massive cyber breach in real time.

The multiplicity of actors involved in disaster reduction, security, response or resilience can be daunting. But all have the same aim: a safer, more secure, sustainable world for communities and businesses, and an efficient, humane and compassionate response for people affected by disasters when they occur. It is therefore vital to eliminate both isolation and duplication of effort.

Emily Hough

This comment appeared in February 2015 

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