Raising risk awareness of extreme weather events for developing countries

Oct 02, 2017

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With natural disasters - from earthquakes to hurricanes - gripping global headlines, a new report from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) aims to help vulnerable communities better manage the potential risks from future extreme weather events.   

The Building Capacity for Risk Management in a Changing Climate report uses the latest advances in climate science to understand how climate change might affect not only the likelihood but severity of extreme weather events on developing and vulnerable communities.  Through the Raising Risk Awareness programme, the analysis focuses on the impact of droughts in Ethiopia and Kenya, flooding and heatwaves in India and coastal flooding in Bangladesh.

It also considers how vital information should be communicated between the scientists and meteorologists analysing and forecasting potential events, the media and communicators who circulate essential information, and the policy makers who incorporate the information from both a preventative and a rebuilding perspective.  

Kiran Sura, a PwC assistant director working with CDKN and co-author of the report, said:

“Recent extreme events such as the earthquakes in Mexico and consecutive hurricanes have certainly focused attention on the devastating impacts that natural disasters can have on communities. The economic and personal impact this has on people, communities and countries can’t be underestimated.

“Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of extreme weather with such events eroding decades of development gains while devastating communities, livelihoods and infrastructure.

“As we outline in our report, the challenge for governments, scientists, media, communities and investors is not just to help unlock technology for urgent challenges like extreme weather events, but to incorporate this into future strategic development, infrastructure modelling and crisis response, as well as ensuring this is communicated effectively in order to minimise the impact on people's’ lives.”

Immediately following an extreme weather event, there is a window of opportunity during which decision-makers are more likely to understand the value of climate science research, be able to act on the information in recovery and rebuilding planning, and elevate climate risk as a policy priority.

The report demonstrates how extreme event attribution can provide a compelling argument for governments in international climate negotiations as they seek to secure greater and faster action to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and secure support to improve building resilience.

It also reveals that, prior to the RRA programme, most stakeholders in the countries involved had little or no understanding of extreme event attribution analysis. But that is now changing.  

In Ethiopia, India and Kenya, for example, scientists have been introduced to new climate science techniques, communications experts engaged on how to use the information to raise awareness of the risks, and policy officials exposed to the potential for this data to influence decision making.

Toby Morris, a PwC sustainability and climate change consultant and co-author of the report, commented:  

“It’s vital that developing and vulnerable nations take action now – before the next extreme weather events occur.

“Extreme event attribution analysis and supporting information, such as factors driving vulnerability and exposure, can be integrated into long term planning, policy design, and delivery processes. Research and experience suggest that this approach can go a long way towards achieving greater resilience in future.

“In the words of the athlete, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, “It's better to look ahead and prepare, than to look back and regret.” And the time to prepare for climate change is now.”


Notes to Editors

The Building Capacity for Risk Management in a Changing Climate report is part of the Raising Risk Awareness project. This project is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), and by Eric and Wendy Schmidt through Climate Central, Inc. CDKN is a programme funded by DFID and the Netherlands Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) for the benefit of developing countries.

The report can be viewed via CDKN.org


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About CDKN

CDKN is a North–South alliance that brings together a wide range of expertise and experience: PwC, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), LEAD Pakistan, Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (FFLA), and SouthSouthNorth. Our team includes climate scientists, researchers, economists, consultants and project managers, along with specialists in communication, knowledge management and partnership building. CDKN partners with national and local governments to design and deliver far-sighted and multidimensional policies for climate compatible development in their countries, and provides the momentum for change at the international level.


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