Emergency Management Victoria has just released a new emergency management climate change program for Victoria. This program formally recognises the inherent interrelationships between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Governments in Australia have generally separated policy responsibilities into discrete areas, such as emergency management, the environment, public health, infrastructure and so on. While this demarcation has benefits, it can also lead to policy areas operating as silos that can overlook cross-agency issues and miss opportunities for cooperation.

Government approaches to emergency management and climate change adaptation have not been an exception. While the policy responses to both have developed largely in isolation until recently, they share the common goal of increasing community resilience and reducing the risk and consequences of natural events. 

On top of this, investments and decisions made in one policy area can affect the other, either positively or negatively. These trade-offs and dynamics first need to be understood to be influenced. More importantly, there needs to be a will to work collaboratively towards identified common objectives for change to be realised.

Complex interrelationships between policy areas, shared goals and the competition for scarce public resources are all compelling reasons break down the silos. The Victorian emergency management climate change program is an important step towards breaking these silos and working together to meet future challenges.