An agenda for risk-informed decision-making

Submitted by CDKN Communications Team | published 19th May 2014 | last updated 20th May 2014


Summary

More frequent and intense climate extremes are expected as the climate changes; this, combined with changing patterns of exposure and vulnerability, is creating new geographic distributions of risk that need to be addressed explicitly through public policy. Disaster risk assessments are produced and promoted on the basis that they provide the information, analysis and knowledge needed to make sound choices and investments that reduce the human impact of environmental hazards.

A new paper by Emily Wilkinson of Overseas Development Institute and CDKN, and Alonso Brenes of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO),  Risk-informed decision-making: An agenda for improving risk assessments under HFA , analyses research conducted in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), with additional material from CDKN’s experience in Ghana, India and Pakistan.

Based on a CDKN research project carried out in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013 by FLACSO and three mini case studies conducted by CDKN regional offices in Africa and Asia, the results presented here provide useful insights into the use of risk-related information in public investment decisions to manage risk, adapt to climate change and promote development.

This paper is therefore of relevance to the global disasters agreement, which is currently in preparation to succeed the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005–2015 – referred to in this paper as ‘HFA2’. These findings will be particularly relevant to national and local government officials who are responsible for risk management decisions; their international development partners who commission and finance the research; and the scientists and consultants hired to conduct the assessments.

Results from these studies suggest that there are technical, operational and institutional obstacles to the uptake of recommendations. These need to be recognised and understood when designing and implementing risk assessment projects. Technical capacities and alignment with other development priorities and political cycles all need to be taken into account, if risk assessment data are to have a positive influence on development, adaptation, and risk management policies and practices.

This paper discusses the technical, operational and institutional influences on the use and application of risk information related to climate extremes and other hazards, embedding its analysis in a broader set of challenges around implementing disaster risk management and adaptation policies. It presents a number of recommendations on how to conceive and conduct risk assessments that can clearly convey the main messages – and thus be more easily translated into effective risk management decisions.

Suggested citation

Wilkinson, E., Brenes, A. 2014. Risk-informed decision-making: An agenda for improving risk assessments under HFA2. Climate and Development Knowledge Network. CDKN Guide.