Seeking Truth on Disaster Risk – Q&A with UNDRR expert Scott Williams

Did you know that the United Nations has a whole agency dedicated to reducing humanity’s exposure and vulnerability to disasters? It is called the UN Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) agency and it does much the same as what many UN agencies do – convene governments and experts to discuss knowledge of the problems and best practices for addressing them so that multilateral agreements can be reached, and technical assistance provided.

Scott Williams is a lead contributing author to the risk reduction report of the UNDRR. In a Deep Adaptation Q&A Professor Jem Bendell asked Scott the extent to which our organisations of governance are helping or hindering how society responds to existential crises and what could still be done to help. The conversation ranged from discussing those institutions to the limits of our methods to assess risk, to exploring the need for new ways of being ‘professional’ through new forms of dialogue. Scott was frank and honest about his personal assessment that with the seasons certain to break down in the Northern hemisphere in the coming years that humanity faces catastrophic change. That message that is currently not welcomed in official reports or meetings of organisations that exist to try to better manage the existing systems of power.

Scott has a wide range of experience including more than 20 years in the private sector working in all major capital markets with corporates, investors and governments, as well as more than 15 years experience working on and leading climate change, sustainability, ESG and risk management programmes and projects in more than 100 countries across the world. Scott’s current focus is on creating spaces within and beyond the UN (with energy as one entry point) to explore a new ecology of communication, a way of being in curious conversation with noticing and tending to relationships and the conditions of the systems rather than explicitly focusing on the manifestation of specific problems. Scott is playing with perceptions, metaphors and habits to allow people to find ways to shift efforts from a fragmented, siloed, funding-based project-by-project approach to an ecological, interdependent, stochastic and systemic issues-based approach. For humans to meet humans as humans in a living process of mutual learning, caring and empathy for all life. Mostly Scott can be found running in the Jura mountains, frolicking within the beauty of nature and increasingly being less sure about almost everything.

For background on why the Deep Adaptation movement considers new ways of being in dialogue to be crucial to reducing harm in the face of societal disruptions please see this academic paper by Bendell and Carr.

To discuss these topics please visit the Deep Adaptation Leadership group on LinkedIn – also where future Q&A invites will be posted.

See more DA Q&As on youtube here.