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Religion and Risk: The challenge of harnessing faith and reducing exposure

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RELIGION AND RISK: THE CHALLENGE OF HARNESSING FAITH AND REDUCING EXPOSURE Dr Lisa Schipper Stockholm Environment Institute Bangkok, Thailand – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Religion and Risk: The challenge of harnessing faith and reducing exposure


1
Religion and Risk The challenge of harnessing
faith and reducing exposure
  • Dr Lisa Schipper
  • Stockholm Environment Institute Bangkok,
    Thailand
  • lisa.schipper_at_sei.se
  • London 7 February 2008

2
Outline
  • Context
  • Risk
  • Religion
  • Examples from the field
  • Conclusions
  • Questions for discussion

3
Context
  • People have always dealt with risk but still
    not adapted why? Is religion a limit to
    adaptation?
  • Technical terminology aside, people understand
    risk through a certain lens, influenced by their
    culture
  • Usually not included in studies because
    sensitive, complex
  • At IPCC Plenary (November 2007) scientists urged
    greater involvement of social scientists in the
    next assessment report particularly from
    behaviour-related fields

4
Risk
  • Threat resulting from combination of Hazard and
    Vulnerability to that Hazard
  • R H x V
  • Reducing risk means
  • Reducing causes of hazard (flood, drought,
    earthquake, cyclone)
  • Reducing causes of vulnerability (underlying
    factors that make people more exposed to specific
    hazard)

5
What is religion?
6
What is religion?
7
What is religion?
8
Religion
  • Shared conviction/set of principles
  • All forms of belief systems including
    spirituality, mysticism, divine faith expressed
    through formal, organised institutions as well as
    superstition, mythology and folktales
  • Centre around some form or forms of divinity

9
Religion
  • Influential (positive)
  • Support and hope
  • Structures social systems
  • Provides social and cultural identity
  • Prayer as a coping mechanism
  • Influential (negative)
  • Divides people, cause of many wars
  • Climate change is already recognised by many
    religious groups

10
Where do they meet?
  • Strong link between religion and nature (divine
    creation, moral obligation to protect)
  • Belief systems have always been a way to explain
    biophysical processes, including extreme climate
    events (lack of scientific knowledge, world
    views)
  • Religion influences
  • Perceptions of risk
  • Attitudes about response
  • Exposure to risk

11
El Salvador Perceptions and Risk
  • Religion affects perceptions and attitudes
  • Evangelical Protestants and liberation theology
    Catholics
  • Difference in perception of risk, in attitude
    toward response
  • Deep roots in political history
  • Religion can be harnessed to help stimulate risk
    reduction, but only with Catholics

12
Ethiopia Religious Duties and Risk
  • Religion affects exposure to risk
  • Orthodox Christians and Muslims
  • Difference in crop loss between two groups
  • Orthodox Christians have many more religious
    duties
  • Muslims are not as badly affected by crop loss
  • Not as political, but affects livelihoods
    seriously

13
Conclusions
  • Religion directly and indirectly affects risk
  • Directly, because it influences
  • Perceptions of what a hazard represents
  • Perceptions of exposure to a hazard
  • Attitudes about reducing exposure
  • Indirectly, because it influences
  • Time availability
  • Livelihood choices
  • Settlement location
  • Social networks

14
Conclusions
  • Belief systems should be part of vulnerability
    and impact analyses
  • Will influence willingness to adapt and limit
    adaptation, adaptive capacity
  • There are aspects that can be harnessed to raise
    awareness (where faith does not interfere)
  • More thinking required to understand options when
    religious view direct cause of vulnerability

15
Recommendations
  • Identify how belief systems are constructive/
    unconstructive
  • Develop platform for dialogue with religious
    leaders and groups on climate change and disaster
    risk
  • Integrate such studies into IPCC and Global
    Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction process
  • Enhance dialogue with faith-based groups

16
Questions
  • Role of culture and/or belief systems in your
    research?
  • How was it manifest constraint or benefit?
  • If constraint how did you overcome?
  • If benefit how did you take advantage?
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