As Governments and UN bodies prepare for the World-Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction and for the Sustainable Development Goals, UNU-EHS and its partners presented the WorldRiskReport on Thursday this week in New York. The event was co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Germany and the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations.
The report features the WorldRiskIndex which assess and compares the disaster risk of countries. The results show that people are particularly at risk in countries that are prone to be hit by hydrological, meteorological, geological or climatic hazards such as floods, droughts, storms, earthquakes and sea level rise while also having a high inherent vulnerability and low response capacity to these events.
“The World Risk Report 2014 and the World Risk Index provide very valuable scientific input into the preparations of several major UN conferences taking place in the course of 2015 and 2016. They highlight the crucial role risk reduction plays in preventing disasters and in mitigating their consequences. We are grateful to the researchers and authors of the World Risk Report and proud to present their findings today at the German Mission to the United Nations in New York “ – remarked the Ambassador Harald Braun, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations.
Following a modular approach, the WorldRiskIndex therefore differentiates disaster risk into the four components of hazard exposure, susceptibility, lack of short-term coping capacity and lack of long-term adaptive capacity. “Whether extreme events and natural hazards trigger a disaster and crises, is not solely a question of the intensity and frequency of extreme events, but also significantly depends on the vulnerability and preparedness of countries and cities at risk” – says Prof. Joern Birkmann from the University of Stuttgart who is the scientific coordinator of the WorldRiskIndex.
This year’s edition the WorldRiskReport examines for the first time levels and dynamics of risk in urban areas. The results show that urbanization is not a driver of risk per se. Rather, urbanization also opens up opportunities for risk reduction in cities and beyond. “The high density of cities, for example, allows for high efficiencies with regards to protective infrastructure and disaster response mechanisms”, says Dr. Matthias Garschagen from the UNU-EHS.
Whether these opportunities of urbanization can be tapped or whether urban growth predominantly drives up risk levels depends strongly on the quality of risk governance in the respective countries and cities.
The report that has been edited by the United Nations University- Institute for Environment and Human Security and the Alliance Development Works also provides concrete recommendations for risk reduction. The WorldRiskIndex is an important vehicle for us to communicate scientific findings to policy makers and to derive important recommendations for international negotiations”, highlights Prof. Jakob Rhyner – Vice Rector of the United Nations University. Furthermore, Peter Mucke, the CEO of the Alliance Development Works (Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft) underscores that “NGOs on the ground can use the report as an important tool to lobby for linking disaster risk reduction and emergency response with long-term development strategies”, particularly in the global South.
Recommendations for up-coming World Conferences in Sendai, New York and Paris:
The findings of the WorldRiskReport2014 suggest that action for Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development should be prioritized in risk hotspot countries identified in the study. In addition, the findings underscore the potential for synergies and co-benefits between the action taken for Disaster Risk Reduction, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Response.
The report can be downloaded under the following link: