The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU PhD candidate successfully defends PhD on integrated disaster risk management in Manizales

29 April 2019

Congratulations to Julia Wesely who has successfully defended her PhD thesis, in which she analysed the trajectories of integrated disaster risk management in Manizales

Julia Wesely

Julia's thesis aimed to better understand how cities can innovate and create co-benefits while managing urban risk.

The need to improve disaster risk management in urban areas has been increasingly acknowledged as a development challenge, in which local institutions play a central role. Innovative measures to reduce risk and tackle its root causes have emerged in several cities. Overall, however, a fragmentation between the fields of disaster risk management and urban development manifests in increasing levels of intensive and extensive urban risk.

Julia's work addresses this shortfall by interrogating a recognised ‘good-practice’ case – the medium-sized city of Manizales in the Colombian Andes – and its notion of integrated risk management from an urban development planning perspective. It focuses on the emergence and configuration of the institutional enabling environment to understand the contributing factors to the cities’ current pathway.

Julia’s qualitative research is based on data from in-depth interviews, document analysis and participant observation. The analytical framework draws on critical junctures to highlight Manizales’ historical institutional trajectories, as well as insights from integrated resource management to reveal the enabling environment for integrated risk management.

Results show that the enabling environment is configured by the relations between normative, regulative and cultural-cognitive factors, which emerged from three themes of critical junctures: 1. hazard and disaster events; 2. normative changes in the built environment and land use planning; and 3. political strategies and frameworks.

Through this work, she contributes to approaches for integrating risk strategically and making its management a conditioning, and potentially even driving, factor for urban development.