Richard Friend and Pakamas Thinphanga presented in a special session on the Mekong region at the Crossing Borders: Governing Environmental Disasters in a Global Urban Age in Asia and the Pacific conference on 5-6 November 2015.
The conference was organized by Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, in collaboration with Institute for Environment and Human Security, United Nations University (UNU-EHS), and Urban Knowledge Network Asia, International Institute of Asian Studies (UKNA-IIAS) with support from the Singapore Ministry of Education grant on ‘Governing Compound Disasters in Urbanizing Asia’.
The paper entitled “Urban transformations and changing patterns of local risk: the interwoven influence of regionalization, urbanization and climate change” explores the regional dimensions of patterns of urbanization, and the ways in which urbanization creates new patterns of vulnerability and risk that go beyond spatial impacts of specific events.
Both the regional dimensions of urbanization and the complex systems perspectives steers us towards the need for understanding vulnerability to shocks and crises that will be multi-scale, inter-linked and inter-locked, with impacts that cascade across locations and people, and that precipitate actions that also then create new round of potential shocks and crises. This is not to argue for abandoning the interest in spatial characteristics of vulnerability, risks and hazards, but rather, to argue the need to also factor in the ways in which the impacts of specific events cascade across locations. Such a shift requires a more regional and global analysis of the ways the Mekong region is becoming inter-linked and inter-locked, and a political economy grounded analysis of the drivers of urbanization.