In recent years, cities around the world are taking concrete steps to protect their residents against natural disasters, including building seawalls, dams and levees, but there is still more to be done. Building more resilient cities is an important step in preparing for a future that will almost certainly see more dramatic and costly natural catastrophes. As populations migrate to coastal and more disaster prone areas, the concept of urban resilience is top of mind.
Swiss Re is one of the leading voices in urban resilience. We are a major partner with the Rockefeller Foundation in its 100 Resilient Cities initiative. We are also at the forefront of advanced modeling of natural catastrophes to inform our clients and help them prepare financially for the future. One of these modeling efforts produced Swiss Re's recent report, "The big one: The East Coast's USD 100 billion hurricane event."
In September 1821, a devastating hurricane affected the eastern coast of the United States, impacting areas from North Carolina all the way up to Massachusetts. If measured by today’s standards, the 1821 hurricane would be named and considered a Category 4 hurricane. To put this into context, recent hurricanes Irene and Sandy were weak category 1 events when they made landfall. If the 1821 hurricane happened today, it would cause up to 50% more damage than Sandy and potentially more than $100 billion in property losses from storm surge and wind damage.
For the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, Chief Resilience Officers around the world will come together to discuss strategies and tactics to be less vulnerable to inevitable natural disasters. Cities like New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Norfolk will partner with 100 Resilient Cities in order to improve upon their resilience plans.
Keeping the possibilities of the natural disasters in mind, Swiss Re and the 100 Resilient Cities initiative will work to improve the structure and path to recovery for our most at-risk places. Today, cities are more prepared than they were in 1821, but as sea level rises, populations migrate to coastal communities and our climate continues to change, we must look beyond traditional risk-transfer solutions to protect our future.
Find more information on the 100 Resilient Cities initiative and Swiss Re’s participation here and follow Swiss Re Corporate Solutions on Twitter (@SwissRe_CS) . Connect with me on Twitter (@JMiller_SRCS) and LinkedIn to join the conversation on urban resilience and natural catastrophes.
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Disaster risk, Floods/storms, Resilience