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New report from Swiss Re warns 616 cities to ‘mind the risk’ on climate change

18 September 2013
New report from Swiss Re warns 616 cities to ‘mind the risk’ on climate change

LONDON: Today Swiss Re published a new report analyzing natural disaster risk in the world’s largest urban areas--specifically 616 cities--highlighting the urgent need for decisive climate action from city leaders

As highlighted by Swiss Re in its new report, Mind the Risk, the United Nations expects 6.3 billion people, or 68% of the world’s population, to be living in urban areas by 2050; burgeoning cities which are often located on the coast and so threatened by natural hazards such as floods, storms and earthquakes.

But, as the authors point out, growing populations, values and infrastructure also increases loss potential in these urban areas. Swiss Re states that the gap between economic and insured losses is large mostly because city infrastructure is often not insured and risk exposure underexplored.

The publication addresses this knowledge deficit with a comprehensive analysis of natural disaster risk in locations around the world. Based on Swiss Re’s risk modeling expertise and the latest hazard information from the global re-insurer’s CatNet® tool, it focuses on the most severe natural disasters faced by 616 of the world’s biggest urban areas, assessing potential impacts on communities and economies.

To reduce the financial burden on urban areas and bridge the gap between economic and insured losses, Swiss Re recommends its risk transfer solutions and suggests improving access to the requisite funding for relief, recovery and reconstruction.

Matt Weber, Swiss Re Group Chief Underwriting Officer, commented: “We hope the findings of this study will give fresh impetus to the global debate about strengthening the resilience of cities and encourage governments, citizens and the insurance industry to take collective action to mitigate the risks faced by urban communities around the world.”

Evan Juska, Head of US Policy, The Climate Group, said: "Increased urbanization and extreme weather are creating new risks for the world's cities. Going forward, understanding and addressing these risks will be critical for city governments. As this report shows, innovative solutions exist for strengthening cities' resilience to climate impacts, in ways that protect both citizens and the economy." 

Next week during the Opening Ceremony of Climate Week NYC 2013, reflecting one year on from Hurricane Sandy, Swiss Re and The Climate Group will host an event to explore how we can make cities more resilient to climate impacts in the future.

The session will explore efforts taken by governments, businesses and civil society over the past year to build more climate resilient communities. It will also identify additional measures that are needed going forward, emphasizing solutions that provide the greatest economic and social benefits. 

We will be live tweeting during the event at @ClimateGroup and streaming the event live on our websites.

Read the report

Related news:

Mark Way, Swiss Re: Mayors and governors are at the sharp end of climate action

Swiss Re experts say city decision-makers should consider total climate risk; insurance is key risk transfer tool

Urban resilience vital as coastal cities face US$1 trillion floods by 2050

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