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Urban Resilience & Disaster Risk Management

February 4, 2014


For latest updates, please visit the Resilient Cities brief page. 

The World Bank has emerged as a leading partner in efforts to help developing countries manage disasters and recover from extreme weather events.  Increasingly frequent extreme weather events are among the greatest threats to poverty reduction and shared prosperity; they can roll back years of development gains and plunge millions of people into poverty.

Coastal cities and their poorest residents are among the most vulnerable. With rising sea levels, these cities’ long-term economic viability is at risk. The urban poor, who often live in low-lying settlements and might not have social or economic safety nets, are particularly vulnerable to the physical and economic shocks of extreme events.

In this context, urban resilience and disaster risk management is at the core of World Bank business. In 2006, the World Bank Group, together with the EU and other donors, established the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) to support disaster prone countries and build urban and climate resilience. In 2014, it established a Disaster Risk Management Hub in Toyko to help share knowledge across developing countries.

The growing commitment of the World Bank to urban resilience and disaster risk management is reflected in our work across the board. Seventy percent of the World Bank's Country Assistance and Partnership Strategies now include disaster and climate risk in their approach to development. The Bank has doubled its investments in disaster risk management; investing, on average, $2.3 billion per year in disaster prevention, preparedness and post-disaster construction. More importantly, we have ramped up efforts to help developing countries mitigate the effects of adverse natural events, with investments in prevention and preparedness now comprising two-thirds of new lending in our disaster risk management portfolio.

Urban Risk Assessment


Another tool to help cities manage disaster risk is the Bank’s Urban Risk Assessment (URA). The URAs place priority on proactive, adaptive planning to reduce and manage the potential for disasters and climate-related weather events. The assessments are guided by three principals that collectively contribute to the understanding of urban risk: 1) hazard impact assessments, 2) institutional assessments, and 3) socioeconomic assessments. 

The URA is designed to allow flexibility in how it is applied dependent on available financial resources, available data relating to hazards and its population, and institutional capacity of a given city. Based on their identified needs and priorities, city governments can select the most appropriate level of risk assessment.

Key publications

GFDRR Strategy 2013-2015

GFDRR Work Plan 2014-2016

World Development Report 2014 - Risk and Opportunity: Managing Risk for Development


Financing Disaster Risk Reduction: Financing International Aid Over 20 Years





Sendai Report: Managing Disaster Risk for a Resilient Future

Weather & Climate Resilience Effective Preparedness through National Meteorological and Hydrological Services


Hazards of Nature, Risks to Development:  An IEG Evaluation of World Bank Assistance for Natural Disasters

Not If, But When: Adapting to Natural Hazards in Pacific Islands Region

Cities and Flooding: A Guide to Integrated Urban Flood Risk Management for the 21st Century