Project Description

Every year millions of people worldwide suffer from disasters in the aftermath of extreme natural events. Current research has made clear that the risk of a natural event turning into a disaster only partly depends on the force of the natural event itself. The framework conditions of a society and the structures in place to respond quickly and provide assistance in the event of emergency are just as significant. The more fragile the power supply and sewage system, the greater the extent of hunger and extreme poverty and the worse the governance structures and public services, the more susceptible a society is to extreme natural events. These events cannot be prevented directly, but countries can reduce disaster risk by fighting poverty and inequality, strengthening education and health, and taking preparedness measures. Those who enforce building regulations, pursue sustainable urban planning, expand flood protection and install and use early warning systems, are better prepared against extreme natural events.  However, most countries and donor agencies still release major funding, when a disaster has already occurred. In this regard, it is important to increase the awareness regarding the necessity for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation to extreme events, before disaster or irreversible changes occur and cause major harm and losses. The WorldRiskReport has been taking on this task since 2011. Published by Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, the annual editions focus on a main topic and include the WorldRiskIndex that was developed by the United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). In 2018, the report was published for the first time in cooperation with the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) of the Ruhr-University Bochum, who took over the calculation of the index.

Aims and Objectives

In order to guarantee the quality of the WorldRiskIndex, it is necessary to continuously monitor and improve the concept and indicators and keep them up to date. From academic perspective, the key goal of this project is thus to build upon the concept of the WorldRiskIndex as it was developed by the UNU-EHS, refine it and adapt it to current needs as well as the development and availability of data.
In more detail this includes:

  • Translation of abstract terms into measurable indicators and criteria that allow the visualisation of selected characteristics and features of these complex concepts and processes;
  • Selection and development of indicators to measure risk, vulnerability and adaptation capacities to natural hazards and climate change-related threats at national and local scales;
  • Development of scientific methodologies to combine and merge very different aspects of disaster risk, vulnerability, coping and adaptation by means of indicators and statistical methodologies;
  • Development of an indicator and index system that is modular in its structure and therefore can be modified, if needed, in the future;
  • Development of a system that is mainly based on data that is publicly available and updated annually;
  • Furthermore, the indicator system and index should enable practitioners and experts to communicate the necessity for preventive measures towards risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

The WorldRiskIndex is not intended to capture the whole complexity of hazards, their generation or the various and context-specific features of vulnerability. Rather, it should give a first overview and, in this context, should stimulate further discussions on how to improve coping capacities and adaptation strategies towards extreme events and natural hazards – with a special emphasis on societal vulnerability.

Affiliated Researchers of the IFHV

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Since 2017

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