Over the past decade, the World Bank has emerged as the global leader in disaster risk management (DRM), supporting client countries in assessing exposure to hazards and addressing disaster risks. The World Bank Group (WBG) provides technical and financial support for risk assessments, risk reduction, preparedness, financial protection, and resilient recovery and reconstruction.
The World Bank’s annual disaster risk management investment has increased markedly over the past eight years – from US$3.5 billion in FY12 to US$4.5 billion in FY20. In providing support for DRM, the WBG promotes a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach to managing disaster risk. All World Bank projects are now screened for climate and disaster risk to ensure that they build the resilience of people on the ground.
The Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice (GPURL) houses the World Bank’s core DRM specialists and leads engagement with client countries on disaster risk and resilience. The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), a global partnership managed by the World Bank and supported by 20 countries and 11 international institutions, acts as a financing and technical body that supports DRM across the World Bank Group.
As reflected in its Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience, the World Bank Group is making adaptation and resilience a key priority, placing it on an equal footing with climate mitigation actions. Through the Action Plan, the World Bank commits to:
- Boost adaptation financing to reach $50 billion over FY21-25, more than double what was achieved during FY15-18,
- Drive a mainstreamed, whole-of-government programmatic approach, and
- Develop a new rating system to create incentives for, and improve the tracking of, global progress on adaptation and resilience.
The World Bank’s approach to delivering on its strategy is organized by areas of engagement, which support priorities for action outlined in the Sendai Framework, as well as contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. These areas of engagement include:
Science and innovation in disaster risk management
To build resilience to natural hazards, it is essential that communities and governments have access to information about disaster risk that is understandable and actionable. GFDRR and the World Bank continue to increase access to information on disaster risk by supporting advances in science, technology, and innovation that can further the understanding of disaster risk and help achieve this goal.
Promoting resilient infrastructure
Basic public services are frequently disrupted in the aftermath of a disaster. When restoring and maintaining them, financing and technical advice are needed to integrate disaster risk management principles into their design. The success of a dedicated program for building safer schools has led to the establishment of programs in other critical sectors, such as transport and water. The Lifelines report showed that disasters result in about $18 billion/year in direct damages to power and transport infrastructure – and the resulting infrastructure disruptions have wide-ranging socio-economic costs for firms and households. Thus, targeted investments to build resilience in infrastructure yield $4 in benefits for every $1 invested.
Climate change puts trillions of dollars of transport investments at risk, which is why resilience – especially road resilience – is also a key part of the World Bank’s agenda. The Bank is working with countries to build resilience into transport systems using strategies such as increasing redundancy; making system-wide efforts to address standards, methods, and materials; and improving effectiveness of preparations for – and response to – extreme climate events.
Water systems are another area at the core of climate change adaptation strategies. Nine out of 10 disasters are water-related, and those risks cascade through food, energy, urban, and environmental systems. The World Bank is promoting investments in nature-based solutions that harness the power of green infrastructure, such as mangroves and wetlands, to play a bigger role in traditional infrastructure planning. This effort can generate services at lower total costs and boost resilience.
Scaling up the resilience of cities
Rapid urbanization in developing countries requires substantial and well-planned infrastructure investments to meet growing resource demands, enhance economic growth, and advance social development. It is also critical to ensure that any infrastructure built today is resilient to disasters and climate change, through access to robust and high-resolution information on risks and appropriate incentives to increase design specifications to build resilience. Actions aimed at building resilience of the cities of today and tomorrow are underway in 52 countries around the world.
Established in June 2017, the City Resilience Program (CRP) – a partnership between the World Bank and GFDRR – is a multi-donor initiative aimed at increasing financing for urban resilience. The CRP aims to support building resilient cities with the capacity to plan for and mitigate adverse impacts of disasters and climate change, thus enabling them to save lives, reduce losses and unlock economic and social potential. To do this, CRP supports cities to connect with the necessary technical expertise and tools to effectively plan for resilience (Planning for Resilience); to access multiple financing sources to ensure that planned investments in resilience come to fruition (Finance for Resilience); and to leverage global partnerships to support their resilience objectives (Partnerships for Resilience). Since its inception, the CRP has provided support to over 90 cities in over 50 countries where it helps provide insight into spatial patterns of development, environmental risk factors, and future growth trajectories to support resilience planning, while engaging an ecosystem of international finance institutions, donors, and financial advisors to deliver paired financing.
Strengthening hydromet services and early warning systems
Mounting disaster costs have increased the need for accurate, timely, and usable information on the likely impacts of weather, climate, and hydrological hazards. Hydromet engagements offer technical expertise and capacity building, both to governments supporting the design of hydromet modernization programs and through engagement in the World Bank/WMO Africa Hydromet Initiative and the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative (CREWS).
Deepening financial protection
Disasters caused by natural hazards inflict an average of $165 billion in financial losses each year, far exceeding available development funds. The Global Risk Financing Facility (GRiF), co-managed by GFDRR and the Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation Global Practice and launched in 2018, helps strengthen the financial resilience of vulnerable countries by establishing new – or scaling up existing – risk financing instruments, including insurance and other market-based instruments.
Building social resilience
Through a combination of geographical context; financial, socioeconomic, cultural, and gender status; and access to services, decision making, and justice, socially marginalized groups are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of natural hazards. The Social Resilience program strengthens the resilience of these vulnerable groups by promoting community-led approaches to risk.
Deepening engagements in resilience to climate change
The World Bank and GFDRR help countries better understand their climate risk and assist with the design and implementation of investments to include climate-resilient measures. For example, the Canada-Caribbean Resilience Facility (CRF) works to achieve more effective and coordinated gender-informed climate-resilient preparedness, recovery, and public financial management practices in nine Caribbean countries.
Ensuring resilient and effective response capacity to meet existing and emerging risks
In the imminent threat or in the aftermath of disaster, first responders (fire, ambulance, police) and civil protection agencies are critical for timely, adequate, effective, and efficient response to limit further disaster impacts – such as fire after earthquake – to save lives and minimize harm, and to provide a reassuring front to citizens affected by disaster. However, many first response and civil protection buildings are themselves vulnerable to damage in disaster, with communications, power, and water systems at high risk of failure. Moreover, risks are changing in cities, with climate change bringing more intense rainfall and the need to undertake rapid water rescues, or higher buildings requiring different types of rescue equipment, or simply growing populations inadequately covered by shrinking emergency services. The World Bank and GFDRR are supporting countries to identify challenges and to design practical strategies and investment plans to ensure first responders and civil protection authorities are ready for the risks that lie ahead.
Enabling resilient recovery
The World Bank and GFDRR are helping countries implement post-disaster damage and needs assessments, as well as recovery and reconstruction programs, based on the principle of building back better. Emphasis is placed on the development and distribution of knowledge products to build the capacity of key stakeholders in planning for rapid recovery and preparedness for future disasters.
Promoting resilience to climate change and enabling gender equality are both central to these areas of engagement, and these two themes are embedded into all World Bank DRM activities.
Last Updated: Mar 16,2021