UN’s Mizutori calls for new approach to disaster risk

Weak risk governance can no longer be tolerated and we need to move away from managing disasters once they have happened to managing disaster risk, according to Mami Mizutori, special representative of the Secretary General, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Mizutori (pic) was speaking as part of a webinar hosted by the International Development Forum (IDF), The Development Impact of Risk Analytics.

The IDF is a partnership led by the insurance industry and supported by the UN, World Bank, NGOs and other international organisations,

She also suggested a more holistic approach to measuring the risk universe is needed: “We need to understand the systemic nature of risk, and analysis that uses quantitative and qualitative analysis is becoming more important than ever.”

A key message of Mizutori’s presentation was the need for the greater development of a public-private partnership entity to enable the provision of sustainable education and funding programmes in areas of greatest risk.

Riffing on a theme that has also become increasingly vocalised in recent years, she addressed the issue of modelling, suggesting a move away from proprietary platforms:

“The accelerated adoption of open risk modelling is very important… nothing eliminates the goals of development like disasters.”

“Timing is everything,” she added. “We cannot fail to seize this moment where Covid-19 is telling us the risk is around us and we need to react to it.”

Also speaking as part of the webinar was Eric Andersen, president of Aon, who pointed to the recent hurricane damage in the Caribbean, which he suggested could lead to economic losses in the region of $2 billion.

Sadly, Andersen said, much of the damage caused by these hurricanes will have been uninsured, and urged state-sponsored efforts and NGOs to embrace the expertise of the private sector:

“The protection gap is too large to be met by humanitarian solutions alone,” he said, adding that more effective understanding of data is key:

“Aon can help… but it starts with a better risk understanding. Our job is to match capital with risk, and we believe that the role of data and analytics has become crucial to unlock that gap.”