Understanding Risk: The Evolution of Disaster Risk Assessment

Komendantova, N. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2568-6179, Patt, A., & Scolobig, A. (2014). Understanding Risk: The Evolution of Disaster Risk Assessment. Washington: GFDRR / International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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In 1999, the most powerful tropical cyclone ever recorded in the North Indian Ocean made landfall in the state of Odisha, India, bringing catastrophic losses in human life and property. With nearly 10,000 fatalities and US$5 billion in damages, the tragedy revealed a stark need for disaster risk reduction and preparedness.

The following decade saw an impressive and sustained effort by the government of Odisha and partners to identify and mitigate cyclone risk, resulting in the construction of emergency roadways, reinforced bridges, shelters, improved coastal embankments, and extensive early warning systems. When the similarly intense Cyclone Phailin made landfall in Odisha late last year, fatalities were minimal: the region experienced a 99.6 percent reduction from the 1999 storm, in large part due to these effective disaster risk management initiatives.

Case studies like this clearly show the potential of targeted interventions to reduce human suffering and lessen the impact of major natural disasters. What makes these and other efforts possible, however, is accurate and actionable risk assessment. Far too often, tragedies like the 1999 Odisha cyclone are the drivers for change, but the future can be different. If brought to scale and embedded within development efforts, disaster risk assessment can effect the social and political will necessary to build resilience before disasters occur, sparing countless lives and better preserving the fragile prosperity gains of the world's most vulnerable communities.

Today, another powerful storm is forming at the intersection of population growth, rapid urbanization, and climate change -- one that threatens to undo decades of progress toward development goals. To prepare communities to weather its impact, we will need to prioritize disaster risk assessment to inform our collective resources, and enable risk management with unprecedented levels of innovation, cooperation, and scale.

Underpinning successes like these is accurate and actionable risk information. This publication highlights some of the influential efforts -- by technical specialists, institutions, and governments around the world -- to create and communicate risk information faster and at lower cost, to improve the quality and transparency of risk information, and to enable more local engagement in the production of authoritative risk information than ever before. This publication is a small but valuable contribution toward that effort. We hope you will work alongside us as we seek to better understand risk in a changing world.

Item Type: Book
Research Programs: Risk & Resilience (RISK)
Risk, Policy and Vulnerability (RPV)
Bibliographic Reference: GFDRR / International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Washington, DC
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:51
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:24
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/11138

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