Woman carries a placard stating 'Keep the Oil in the Ground' whilst demonstrating for environmental awareness during the 2014 People's Climate March through Manhattan, New York, USA.
Article/journal, Climate change, energy & environment, Human rights & justice, Munk School

Community Vulnerability to Extractive Industry Disasters

Extractive industry disasters are events of varying magnitude that inexorably jeopardize the safety and livelihoods of surrounding communities and natural environments. As states and industries commit to further extraction of minerals and oil resources, it is increasingly important to understand the factors that compound community vulnerability and influence capacities to respond. A disaster refers to an exogenous shock that disrupts normal patterns and standards of living, which may cause suffering beyond a community’s capacity to respond and lead to human or environmental losses.

The social vulnerability of a community involves the biophysical, social, economic, political, and legal characteristics that influence its sensitivity to disasters. Resilience refers to a community’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impacts of a disaster. Resilience enables communities to direct available resources towards absorbing disturbances, organizing local responses to disasters, and preventing further harm. Mobilization efforts to resist hazard exposures through acts of civil disobedience, awareness-raising campaigns in partnership with external allies, shareholder activism, or legal challenges are examples of strategies deployed by resilient communities. However, factors such as economic dependence on extractive industries, community polarization, psychological distress, and limited local knowledge of extractive industry disasters can hinder resilience.