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[icon name=”home” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Panel home: Climate change, ‘natural’ disasters and law beyond the state

Dr Caroline Compton
UNSW Law, University of New South Wales

In midst of a disaster triggered by a natural event, recovery unfolds on multiple scales. National and local governments can articulate long term recovery plans, which – increasingly – incorporate climate adaptation programming. These plans can be years in the delivery. Humanitarian workers deliver projects, with timescales constrained by their contracts with donors and project logframes. Residents of disaster struck areas recover in timescales that can be measured in days, years, or lifetimes as they recover homes, family, and community. Drawing on fieldwork in the Visayas region of the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, this paper discusses how the disjointed temporal interests of actors can derail the best intended recovery plans. In particular, the temporal disconnects between state law’s effect, the transitional needs of residents waiting for the implementation of state sanctioned recovery plans, and humanitarian project law can leave communities in effective recovery lacunas. The paper contrasts the experiences of communities in Tacloban City and Santa Fe municipality, highlighting how the prioritization of social networks and family group affiliation over state law resulted in better mid-term outcomes, and – potentially – greater levels of climate resilience in the long-term.

Dr Caroline Compton is currently a Research Associate at UNSW on ‘Data Science in Humanitarianism: Confronting Novel Law and Policy Challenges’. Caroline studies the operation of legal and normative systems at multiple registers, employing an interdisciplinary approach and ethnographic methods. She completed a PhD from the ANU College of Law, examining property law, development and disaster with an interest in understanding the interlegalities of disaster recovery. She received an Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship to undertake doctoral fieldwork in the Philippines. She has been a Visiting Research Associate at the Institute of Philippine Culture at Ateneo de Manila University, a Visiting Researcher at the University of Coimbra, and spent the 2017-8 US academic year at Yale University as a Fox Fellow.

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