Location: Zurich, Switzerland
The work to address climate change involves not only preventing it, but also preparing communities for its impact. One visible impact is increased flooding, which affects more people in the world than any other natural disaster. Each year, for the past 10 years, an average of 250 million people have been affected by flooding, and an analysis of current climate trends estimates that this number could double within a century. Furthermore, floods have a high economic cost. It is estimated that cumulative global costs could surpass USD 1 trillion in damages per year by 2050. How can the damage from these natural disasters be mitigated in a sustainable and scalable way?
The city of Zurich has created a partnership among Zurich Insurance, Wharton Business School, the International Institute for Applied System Analysis, the Red Cross, and Practical Action to address this question. The Zurich Flood Resilience Program conducts research to better measure and understand flood risk. This leads to improved decision-making and increased financing for preventive measures. It also increases financing for preventive measures that create greater flood-resilience in at-risk communities. In addition, a comprehensive network links flood research with organizations on the ground who have the humanitarian and risk expertise to make solutions fit community contexts. Using a scalable and replicable model, this program provides the research and knowledge needed to understand the problem along with the network and investment needed to address it.
The Zurich Flood Resilience Program was designed with positive spillovers in mind: to share knowledge and encourage others to replicate the model elsewhere. Thus far, it has been able to generate USD 35.6 million in initial investment for flood-resilience measurement and community-based solutions. It has also created early warning systems in Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal and Peru, directly benefitting 125,000 people. In recognition of its innovative work, the program was chosen by the UN’s Momentum for Change initiative as a 2014 Lighthouse Activity. Is your town prepared for climate change?
Environmental impact: Flood risk mitigation
Measurement: Zurich Insurance
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