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Global flood risk could almost triple by 2030



Climate change and growing global populations could mean that flood risk around the world will nearly triple over the next fifteen years, according to a new online tool.

The Aqueduct Global Flood Analyser was co-developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and four Dutch research organisations – Deltares, the Institute for Environmental Studies of the VU University Amsterdam, Utrecht University and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

The analysis found that currently around 21 million people are exposed to flood risk every year, costing the global economy over £60 billion. However, these figures are expect to increase, with 54 million people exposed to floods due to climate change and socio-economic development and the economic cost rising to around £340 billion by 2030.

The countries most at risk in terms of exposed population are developing nations, with India topping the list, followed by Bangladesh, China and Vietnam. In terms of economic damage the least developed and developing nations are also expected to lose the highest portions of their GDP.

Writing in a blog, published by the WRI, Hessel Winsemius, a researcher at Deltares, and Philip Ward, a senior researcher at the Institute of Environmental Studies of the VU University Amsterdam, explain how the new tool can be used to assess and mitigate risk.

They write, “The risks may be escalating, but public and private sector decision makers can do more to prevent catastrophic damage before it happens.

“Sharing the Analyzer’s easily accessible data with public and private sector decision makers will immediately raise their awareness about current and future river-flood risks. Armed with the right information, decision makers can then prioritise risk reduction and climate adaption projects, and implement the move viable, cost-efficient options.”

International development and financing organisations can use the tool to prioritise investment, while multinational companies can use it to assess the security of their supply chain and operations.

Winsemius and Ward add, “It will take decades and many billions of dollars to protect the tens of millions of people at risk from river floods and coastal storm surges. But starting now and following the direction of tools like the Global Flood Analyzer will help decisions makers in international relief organisations, reinsurance companies, multinational company and many other build advanced protection systems to protect people and infrastructure.”

Photo: Shaun Dunphy via Flickr

Further reading:

Extra £500m flood spending needed to keep pace with climate change

Flooding poses risk to UK economy and could worsen with climate change

MPs identify £600m shortfall in flood defence funding

Insurers call for additional £500m for flood defences

Study links increased flooding to population growth