Letters from Sendai – n°2
Risk assessment is an essential part of any risk management effort. In the context of disaster and climate risks advances are being made to improve our understanding of current and future risks. However, availability and access to data and models are still challenging in many places of the world. This is a key topic discussed here in Sendai, and a range of existing and newly proposed information sharing platforms and modeling approaches as well as new technologies are being showcased.
However, it is important to make sure that risk assessments are not simply done as a stand-alone exercise, but that there is a clear reflection on what questions end-users will have to find answers to when using the risk assessment results. This is important as the information requirements and the chosen approach to risk assessment may differ depending on the needs of the decision maker and the context in which this is occurring.
In the ENHANCE research consortium new approaches for assessing natural disaster risks are being developed and applied to a rich variety of selected cases of high- profile catastrophic hazards in several EU countries. For example, by accounting for (geographical) interdependencies of hazards and risks using statistical methods, like copulas, better-quality estimates of low- probability-high impact risks can be obtained. This is subject of a new policy brief, published to inform decision makers here in Sendai and elsewhere about risk assessment methods: Botzen et.al. 2015:
NATURAL HAZARD RISK ASSESSMENTS FOR IMPROVING RESILIENCE IN EUROPE
As the provided case study examples illustrate, the kind of risk assessment and its scale depend on how the results are used by decision makers. For example, the EU-wide flood risk assessment informs the design of the EU solidarity fund, while the local assessments of surface water flooding in the UK and drought risk in the Jucar provide useful information for local risk management policies, such as insurance and water pricing.
While climate and disaster risk assessments are becoming increasingly important for the design of policies to increase disaster resilience and promote adaptation they are only the first step. We also need to consider if and how risk assessments are understood and used by decision makers in addressing these challenges.
On Twitter WCDRR
Access all letters here.
Official UN WCDRR website http://www.wcdrr.org/home
GAR2015 (Global Assessment Report 2015)