Reformed climate risk assessment methodology for enhancing resilience

Despite several existing reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, guidelines and climate change impact assessment related tools available, the challenge for number of businesses and communities in evaluating climate risk has remained over years due to the lack of a clear understanding of the potential impact of climate change in terms of environmental disasters and the drastic shortage of natural resources.

In this regard, it has recently been admitted and reaffirmed during the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to systematically couple the climate risk assessment process with methods and tools for disaster risk assessment and reduction, especially for bottom-up climate change vulnerability assessments, physical, transition and liability risks as well as policy, operational, business interruption and development risks.

Thus, climate change impact needs to be considered, not just as an environmental issue, but as a major threat to economic and social development as well. Climate risk management must be fully integrated into economic planning and the design of sectoral plans and budgets.

The first step (participatory process) of the reformed climate risk assessment methodology as reaffirmed during the COP23, is to gather data from local experiences of trends (alongside the occurrence of hazards such as cyclones, floods and droughts), livelihoods, migration, land-use, environmental changes, vegetation changes, species distribution, stream flows, water table, changes in seasonal calendars, and local risks through risk mapping, transect walks, focus group discussions, wealth ranking, asset inventories, and disaster risk prioritsation tools. This step should also identify existing resilience mechanisms, and to what extent these coping mechanisms are likely to collapse.

Secondly, upfront and modelling analysis should be applied to provide reliable projections and disaster risks for the future that cannot be directly anticipated from local data, in order to define appropriate resilience strategies.

Thirdly, the results of the above steps should be aggregated and scaled up for disaster risk information and reduction activities at regional and national levels in order to address short-and long-term vulnerabilities under worst-case scenarios. Local information gathering and follow-up actions must be properly implemented to serve as samples to design climate resilience programmes at a higher level.

Effective climate resilience investments planning and implementation should be informed by a long-term process that links bottom-up consultation with top-down planning and policy. This approach strictly requires concerted action between governments and all other key stakeholders.

This article is contributed by Ir Dr Alex Gbaguidi with the coordination of the Environmental Division.

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