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We’re Putting Climate and Disaster Risks in Focus

Jane Ebinger's picture

 Scott Wallace/World Bank

Strengthening disaster and climate resilience must become an integral part of our development work. With global temperatures continuing to rise, we know that volatile and extreme weather events will become more frequent, and that poor and vulnerable populations will be most at risk when that happens.

So I was pleased to recently welcome a group of international development experts to the World Bank Group’s headquarters in Washington who are all working – tirelessly – to develop climate and disaster risk screening tools.

These tools are exactly what they sound like: They provide due diligence at the early stages of project design to ensure that climate and disaster risks are flagged. Screening is a first, but essential, step to make sure that these risks are assessed and managed as we work on climate and disaster-resilient development.

All of this will help us better predict and prepare for risk, allowing nations and communities to build the capacity they need to grow resilient, and to put in place response measures in a warming and more disruptive climate.

The participants at the workshop this month were all on board with the idea that we must partner and work together to be able to meet these challenges. They agreed that the next step for the group will be to develop a questionnaire that would allow for a comprehensive mapping of existing screening tools, and to help determine potential areas of collaboration going forward.

Most importantly, participants underscored the importance of a continued exchange of ideas, and called for expanded collaboration and learning on this critical but important agenda.

I think this is absolutely the right way to move forward.

The challenge posed by extreme events and climate change is mounting. Globally, weather-related loss & damage have risen from an average of about $50 billion a year in the 1980s to close to $200 billion a year over the last decade.

IDA17: A mandate to help the poorest nations adapt to climate change

For the World Bank, the urgency for climate and disaster screening is driven in part by directives from the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank’s fund for the poorest. A few months ago, a global coalition of 46 nations offered a record $52 billion for the replenishment of IDA.

It will have a direct impact on our climate change work going forward in the 82 IDA nations, and involve our entire organization. Under the new, three-year funding cycle, IDA17, we must screen all new IDA operations for short- and long-term climate change and disaster risks and, where risks exist, integrate appropriate resilience measures.

Which brings me back to the workshop held at the Bank this month. Developing partnerships to exchange knowledge, technology and expertise will be an absolutely critical part of our work going forward. Just like international financial institutions have come together to develop metrics or finance programs, this may well be another domain that calls for joint action and for building synergies from an early stage.

We all know this job is too big for one organization alone.

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