Bank calls for better risk assessment
- Adaptation ,
- Business & Industry ,
- Built environment
The world is ill-prepared for an increase in disasters exacerbated by climate change, rising populations and urbanisation, the World Bank has found.
Its report, The Making of a Riskier Future, reveals that the annual cost of damage from disasters (averaged over ten years) increased tenfold between 1976 and 1985 and 2005 and 2014, from $14bn to more than $140bn. The bank said losses would rise further, with densely populated coastal areas in particular at risk. Many are sinking, and when coupled with rising sea levels, annual losses in 136 coastal cities could increase from $6bn in 2010 to $1,000bn in 2070.
A global sea-level rise of up to 0.6 m this century would increase disaster risk significantly in coastal areas, while subsidence, a major cause of which is groundwater extraction, would increase the likelihood of flooding locally, according to the report. In some coastal megacities, such as Bangkok and Jakarta, sinking land will be a greater threat than flooding.
Taking into account change in precipitation, sea level, land use and subsidence, annual damage in 2030 is expected to increase globally by 263%, with subsidence alone contributing 173%.
The report advocates a radical new approach to assessing risk, one that includes extremely rapid changes in global disaster risk. It urges the world to move away from assessments that show risk at a single point in the present, which can quickly become outdated, and adopt assessments that can guide decision makers towards a more resilient future.
‘With climate change and rising numbers of people in urban areas rapidly driving up future risks, there’s a real danger the world is woefully unprepared for what lies ahead,’ said John Roome, the bank’s senior director for climate change. ‘Unless we change our approach to future planning for cities and coastal areas that takes into account potential disasters, we run the real risk of locking in decisions that will lead to drastic increases in future losses.’
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