Asia Minute: Global Lessons from Australia’s Brushfires

Nov 2, 2020

Natural disasters are getting more complicated — and governments need to adjust their responses. That's the finding of a panel looking at brushfires in Australia. But there are warnings in the report that apply to other parts of the world as well.


A year ago, Australia was in the middle of its most intense brushfire season on record, with destruction touching every state in the country.

A royal commission is out with its review of the fires and the response, and its findings focus on what needs to be done to prepare for the future — noting that “further global warming over the next two decades is inevitable.”

The report says natural disasters will become “more complex, more unpredictable and more difficult to manage.” One reason is that the crises are likely to overlap — heat waves and brushfires, severe storms and flooding.

The commissioners say “what was unprecedented is now our future.”

The panel does have recommendations for Australia — 80 of them.

They’re wide-ranging from providing more resources for aerial firefighting to developing a better system to report climate data, and coming up with more specific and actionable warnings for at-risk areas. 

They also include broader ideas, such as leveraging what the commission called “indigenous knowledge of fire management” and providing more support for people suffering mental health impacts from disasters.

The government says it will “carefully and methodically” consider the recommendations.