The World Bank Group and Italy join forces on Disaster Risk Reduction

May 31, 2016

The World Bank Group and Italy join forces on Disaster Risk Reduction

Signing of the MoU between GFDRR and the Italian Civil Protection

Photo credit: F. Cenedese/World Bank

Natural disaster risk is increasing rapidly. While annual figures can vary, comparing ten-year averages paint a stark picture: between 2005 and 2014, disaster risks caused an average of 10 times more damage and affected 10 times more people per year than between 1976 and 1985. Population growth, urbanization and the impact of climate change will only exacerbate this trend. Now, more than ever, preparing for risks and managing them effectively requires a global effort.

In this spirit, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), a World Bank-managed partnership, organized the 2016 Understanding Risk forum in Venice, a city highly vulnerable to climate change. Over five days, the event gathered more than 700 experts to discuss the critical role of innovation in disaster risk management. With the support of the Italian Government, the forum hosted high-level panels and companies displaying cutting-edge technology.

One of the many highlights of the week included the launch of GFDRR’s flagship publication: Making a Riskier Future, How Our Decisions Shape the Future of Disaster Risk. This report calls for a radical new approach to assessing risk and warns factors like climate change, rising populations in urban areas and unregulated building practices are rapidly driving the world to a riskier future.

With climate change and rising numbers of people in urban areas rapidly driving up future risks, there’s a real danger the world is woefully unprepared for what lies ahead,” said John Roome, the World Bank Group’s Senior Director for Climate Change. “Unless we change our approach to future planning for cities and coastal areas that takes into account potential disasters, we run the real risk of locking in decisions that will lead to drastic increases in future losses.

The World Bank Group and Italy join forces on Disaster Risk Reduction

John Roome, Senior Director for Climate Change, the World Bank


On the sidelines of the conference, the Bank, through GFDRR, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Italian Civil Protection (ICP). The agreement renews ongoing cooperation and proposes new ways for the ICP to collaborate with the Bank in aiding risk reduction in developing countries.

For the Bank, the agreement emphasizes the need to collaborate with countries like Italy to achieve goals on risk reduction as outlined in the Sendai Framework, adopted in 2015.

By working together with top experts, we can contribute to help strengthening the disaster risk management capacities of the most vulnerable countries – and, as a result, help better protect vulnerable populations around the world”, said Francis Ghesquiere, head of the GFDRR Secretariat.

Fabrizio Curcio, the Head of the Italian Civil Protection Department, described the Memorandum of Understanding as “an additional incentive for a better synergy between the two institutions to build more prepared and resilient communities." Despite progress, we are still “far from being immune from risks and related disasters", he added.

In the past, the Bank, GFDRR, and the ICP have exchanged best practices on response, resource mobilisation, and reconstruction as it relates to earthquakes. Through the Memorandum, both institutions will continue exchanging expertise through joint projects, missions, training, and events like the Understanding Risk Forum.

Additionally, the conference hosted the global launch of ThinkHazard!– ‪ the first of its kind free and open source tool that enables users to determine, for a given project location in any country, the potential likelihood of eight natural hazards—from earthquakes to landslides to floods—including changes under climate change scenarios, and what actions they should take to make their project resilient. ‬‬‬‬‬‬

Laura Tuck, the Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development, along with Laura Frigenti, Director of the Italian Agency for International Cooperation, closed the conference by urging the global community to take the steps necessary to better understand risk and invest in a more resilient future.

In the face of all the challenges, we are making big leaps in the way we think about and do risk assessment and analysis by using new techniques, new technologies, and new platforms,Laura Tuck said. “These are helping us make better and more cost-effective investment decisions which can in turn lead to a reduction in the potential impact of disasters.

About the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerabilities to natural hazards and adapt to climate change. Working with over 400 local, national, regional, and international partners, GFDRR provides grant financing, technical assistance, training and knowledge sharing activities to mainstream disaster and climate risk management in policies and strategies. Managed by the World Bank, GFDRR is supported by 34 countries and 9 international organizations. For more information, please visit www.gfdrr.org.