Human Development Report 2016 -Risk-Proofing the Western Balkans: Empowering People to Prevent Disasters

20 May 2016

How can people be empowered to become agents of change, minimising disaster risks and ensuring sustainable and climate-smart human development? How can we collectively move from recovery to building resilience? How to put people at the centre of all disaster risk reduction efforts as agents of change, not just as potential victims?

The report focuses on recent flood disasters that struck Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, and Kosovo*. Acting pre-emptively to reduce risks at the community level is increasingly recognised as a single most efficient and cost-effective way to reduce disaster risk and prevent future losses from hazards. But how to apply it in practice, and how to learn from responses to disasters in the Western Balkans? How to harness the strength of bottom-up approaches, and capitalise on their direct connectedness to people, local knowledge and resources and an ability to reach out to the vulnerable and excluded. How can spontaneous outburst of solidarity of people be systematised into sustainable systems for future use? How to scale up on female and youth leadership to ensure effective, inclusive and sustainable approaches in the future? How can transformative use of technology, social networks and big data be translated into inexpensive early warning systems and emergency response tools?

A joint vulnerability to disasters of the region also calls for a vigorous assessment of the trans-boundary hazards and an expedition of knowledge transfer mechanisms to boost the capacities for risk identification, assessment, monitoring and early warning in the Western Balkans. This publication identifies the key roadblocks and opportunities to this end, and calls for action aimed at risk-proofing the Western Balkans for the people by the people.

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).