Perceptions of hazards involve cultural interpretations of risk that are well understood in anthropology, but often ignored in disaster risk reduction. It is also essential to understand the cultures of organizations that deal with disasters, and how these are formed and clash with those of people.
Climate change highlights the problems of beliefs and behaviours in relation to risks, including those of climate-related natural hazards. In mainstream disaster risk reduction (DRR) the significance of culture is largely ignored as a part of the process for dealing with risks. For example, although religious beliefs inform the attitudes of most people to disasters, it is almost completely absent as a factor in the design of DRR and climate adaptation organization's activities, or in how those organizations interact with local people. There is already considerable understanding of this in anthropology, and this panel aims to assess why this knowledge is ignored, and how it can be better incorporated with DRR. In part this highlights the need for another form of understanding: to analyse the culture of the DRR organizations themselves. How is it that they, in the face of enormous evidence, can neglect the significance of people's culture and its effects on their work? The panel promotes transdisciplinary understanding of organizations' culture: unless their dealings with risks changes to improve the 'fit' with people's culture, then disaster preparedness in relation to climate change will be ineffective. The panel invites contributions that examine one or more of the following: i) people's practices in relation to climate risks, ii) organizational culture in disaster and climate risk reduction, and iii) the way that people's and organizational cultures do or do not fit with each other, and the implications for successful climate change adaptation and DRR.