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Staying above water: A systemic response to rising flood risk
This report illustrates how the transformation of flood risk management can play out along three ways forward: Living with floods, building strategic protection, and preparing for relocation. Flood risk is growing at an alarming rate across the world, posing increasingly complex challenges to socioeconomic systems, infrastructure, and the environment. According to Marsh McLennan estimates, 18% of the global population is currently threatened by flooding, and even limiting global warming to 2 °C would cause this percentage to double. Similarly, the impacts of flooding on infrastructure are already visible and set to grow over time, with power plants, international airports, and international ports increasingly under strain.
Governments, businesses, and society must shift from a responsive to an anticipatory approach to flood risk. Rethinking resilience requires a range of tools applied in a cross-cutting, collaborative, and forward-looking manner, both at pace and at scale. Three principles must guide the transformation:
- Embrace forward-looking trends by incorporating climate change considerations, setting resilience targets, and adapting strategies to changing risk levels;
- Harness co-benefits by taking a systems-level approach, leveraging social, economic, and environmental dividends to unlock investment and address interlocking issues;
- Coordinate the implementation of tools through new modes of collaboration by involving a range of stakeholders including businesses, households, communities, and layers of government.