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Environmental Science & Policy

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Abstract In this paper we argue that rationalist ‘predict then act’ approaches to disaster risk management (DRM) policy promote unrealistic public expectations of DRM provisions, the avoidance of decision making by political elites, an over-reliance on technical expertise and engineering solutions to reducing exposure to natural events, and a reactive approach to DRM overall. We propose an alternative incrementalist approach that focuses on managing uncertainties rather than reducing them and building resilience not simply through the reduction of hazard exposure, but also through the ongoing reduction of community vulnerability, the explicit consideration of normative priorities, and more effective community engagement in climate risk debates.