UNDRR’s Risk Assessment and Planning Guide

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UNDRR’s Risk Assessment and Planning Guide

Climate change increases climate-related hazards’ magnitude, frequency, duration, and severity. It has become a significant driver of disaster losses and development achievement setbacks.

Hence, a comprehensive understanding of risks should be a priority, according to a guidance report from the UNDRR and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR, 2022).

“To help disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation decision-makers, practitioners and stakeholders unpack the complex risk landscape and develop more responsive plans and policies, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) UNDRR, in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, developed Technical Guidance on Comprehensive Risk Assessment and Planning in the Context of Climate Change.”

“The document offers a framework for applying comprehensive risk assessment and planning. It acknowledges that risks in the context of climate change are complex and systemic due to non-linear interactions among system components and the need for improved risk governance. The guidance can be contextualized to national and local needs.”

The technical guide proposes a comprehensive risk framework in the context of climate change based on ten fundamental principles as follows:

  1. Putting risk to human and ecological systems at the centre by considering: The dynamic interaction among hazards, vulnerability, exposure, and underlying risk drivers when assessing risk and seeking solutions (risk reduction and adaptation); CRA as a foundation and integral part of the overall risk management process; and a common understanding of the broad risk perspective and of the value-added of bringing closer together DRR and CCA communities of practices, including a mind shift towards prevention and preparedness Risk as a value-based concept.
  2. Fully accounting for the context of climate change by considering: Climate change as an underlying risk driver that modifies climate-related hazards and also vulnerability and exposure today and in the future; The full spectrum of climate-related hazards (extreme events and slow-onset processes and trends), as well as their interaction with and implications on non-climatic hazards; and current climate risk as well as future climate risk, insofar as they are relevant to their respective sectors and systems and the decision-making and planning process to ensure adaptive planning and dealing with different timescales.
  3. Recognizing the complex and systemic nature of risks by considering: Effects of multiple hazards, compound events, cascading hazards, impacts and risks, as well as linkages among risks across sectors, to understand how these cascades could be interrupted by risk reduction measures; Risks to a wide range of interrelated human and ecological subsystems (including ecosystems and other natural systems, physical assets, humans and livelihoods, and societal sectors); and The “non-quantifiability” and high uncertainty in understanding essential parts of complex risks, which require the application of hybrid, qualitative and participative methods for risk assessment and flexible approaches for risk management toward more resilient systems.
  4. Applying inclusive risk governance by engaging and partnering with multiple stakeholders, adopting a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach (public, private, communities, knowledge centres, media, etc.), and strengthening the involvement of decision-makers and populations at risk to increase buy-in and facilitate implementation.
  5. Using multidisciplinary approaches to identify and select measures by considering: A wide portfolio and combination of risk reduction and risk management measures (DRR, CCA, etc.); engaging various sectors and systems to address multiple and context-specific risks; and Diverse information and knowledge sources by including at-risk population.
  6. Using the concept of risk tolerance to: Evaluate risks according to their tolerability to spur action; Inform the identification and selection of appropriate risk reduction and risk management measures.
  7. Addressing, minimizing, and averting risks through NBSS by considering: The role of ecosystems and their services: as part of the risk (climate impacts on the ecosystem and their services cause risks for human systems, degradation of ecosystem services increases vulnerability to climate risks); and The approach to be adaptable to different spatial scales, including transboundary as part of the solution.
  8. Integrating risk across sectors and levels by considering: Synergies and trade-offs across multiple levels, linking local realities with national and international processes; and A wide range of planning instruments, “game-changers” such as financial instruments and their timing.
  9. Strengthening risk communication, information, and knowledge sources by considering: A combination of diverse information sources, methods and knowledge to include scientific, traditional, local and indigenous knowledge, facilitating knowledge co-creation processes and designing measures; Gaps in and needs for climate information and services (CISs) and strengthening them; To keep the end-users in mind throughout the assessment and integration process, tailoring risk information; and The potential for behaviour change and individual responsibility.
  10. Using iterative and flexible processes by considering: Adaptive management and planning based on robust MEL frameworks, feeding into an iterative and dynamic approach to allow adjustments to planning and implementation; and The value-added of the overall process itself as a way to help fill capacity gaps, and improve information sharing and coordination mechanisms.

The last part of the report shows case studies demonstrating how a comprehensive approach to risk assessment and planning supports the integration of risks into all sectors and plans.

Although these examples are still in their infancy, they demonstrate how comprehensive approaches to integrating risks in planning processes have been operationalized at different scales and how they are overcoming some of the common institutional and practical challenges for risk-informed planning.

The case studies also serve as an inspiration on how risk assessments can be implemented in specific contexts.

Case studies in the guidance include Vietnam’s design of its final risk matrix, Madagascar’s utilizing impact chains, and Nepal’s making available and tailoring risk assessment results to a wide range of stakeholders on an interactive online mapping platform.

To read the complete guide, click the link provided in the “Source” below.


UNDRR (2022) “Technical Guidance on Comprehensive Risk Assessment and Planning in the Context of Climate Change”, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. Retrieved from https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Technical%20Guidance%20CRA.pdf

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