Bank calls for better risk assessment

3rd June 2016

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Adaptation ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Built environment


Bandula Herath

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urges the world to move away from assessments that show risk at a single point in the present, which can quickly become outdated, and adopt assessments that can guide decision makers towards a more resilient future.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.’

Meanwhile, consultancy Arcadis has published its first sustainable cities water index. Rotterdam is ranked the world’s most sustainable urban water city, but Arcadis said most cities needed greater investment to improve their resiliency to extreme weather and unforeseen water shortages.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Weather damage insurance claims hit record high

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Five of the latest books on the environment and sustainability

3rd April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close