A large number of big city mayors gathered in Dalian on the occasion of WEF China last week to discuss how to manage city resilience in the 21st century – the Centry of Urbanisation – amongst other matters. This is particularly poignant in light of the harrowing explosion that shook Tianjin just a few weeks ago, leaving people and leaders shell-shocked. Things like this can happen in big cities with strong industrial activity – it's not the first time in history – and probably not the last. It gave city administrations pause to reflect, and a clear incentive to invest in risk conscious infrastructure development and city planning. Every attempt should be made to avoid similar devastation in future!
It's 10 year ago since Katrina struck New Orleans – in that case a natural disaster, not a man-made one. The costs to society were devastating, and last week the city used the anniversary to announce its first Resilience Strategy. As a long-time advocate of conscious risk management for both cities and governments, it was another milestone occasion for Swiss Re. Also because we're a founding partner of the pioneering 100 Resilient Cities Initiative, which has helped shape New Orleans' resilience strategy. NOLA Mayor, Mitch Landrieu, said "Resilience is much more than levees holding back water and wetlands protecting us from storms. It means striking a balance between human needs and the environment that surrounds us."
Resilience should not be regarded as a cost, but an investment in your city's and your country's future. This became even more obvious this week, when S&P launched a new report linking disaster preparedness and credit ratings, indicating that under a specific set of criteria, countries with no resilience measures in place could be downgraded by as much as two notches. Watching Etau sweep across Japan last week causing horrific floods, and the massive earthquake in Chile unfolding at the time of writing, the imperatives for resilience become highly concrete. In the case of Chile, in spite of the 8.3 earthquake being felt as far away as Rio de Janeiro, the media are reporting that the country is holding up well thanks to its high level of disaster-preparedness. What is clear, is that insurance can play an important part in helping to mitigate physical disaster impacts, speed up response and recovery and reduce the longer term impacts on GDP. S&P writes: "The economy with higher insurance coverage recovers more quickly and suffers from a lower cumulative GDP damage than in absence of insurance coverage." So let's move from talk to action. Thinking ahead, building resilience, is simply an investment in the future!
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Disaster risk, Resilience
Location: London, United Kingdom