The only way to reduce risk is to understand it
As climate change continues to exacerbate the impact of natural hazards, the importance of valuable and contextually appropriate risk information cannot be overstated. According to Swiss Re’s estimations, insured losses resulting from natural and man-made disasters was a record-breaking US$136 billion in 2017, mainly due to the three hurricanes that hit the US and the Caribbean, as well as the wildfires in California.
Although the costs and impacts of disasters continue to break records, events like this year’s 2018 Understanding Risk Forum are great opportunities for sharing what countries around the world are learning, which is that understanding risk equals better designed and more sustainable development.
UNDP, with nearly 170 country offices and as the largest implementer of disaster risk reduction programming in the UN System, is at the forefront of efforts to understand risk. And through my role, I have had the privilege to work with partners as they have made impressive steps in this regard.
For instance, I had the opportunity to support the development of the National Risk Atlas, a comprehensive risk profile to advance risk-informed development, by the Government of Rwanda and UN colleagues. The Atlas followed a string of disasters from 2005 onwards, and was a recognition of the fact that, in order to safeguard development gains and achieve Agenda 2030, a thorough risk assessment would be necessary. The Atlas, supported by European Union-Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction (WB-GFDRR) and covering five hazards (drought, flood, landslide, earthquake and windstorm) and six elements at risk (population, buildings, roads, schools, hospitals and crops), helped generate evidence-based risk information to guide national and sub-national development planning and investment.