Partnering to reduce flood risk in Brazil

Stronger collaboration between the public sector and the insurance industry could add vital momentum to the Brazilian government's USD 11 billion plan to finance public works aimed at avoiding and mitigating the impact of flooding.

Among many other measures, Brazil's National Plan for Disaster Risk Management introduced in 2012 will entail the construction of huge reservoirs to control the flow of flood water into the rivers, thus reducing the risk of inundation. Other flood and landslide prevention initiatives in hand include the construction of soil containment walls on hillsides and improvements to city drainage systems. This is a pressing need given the hundreds of people killed every year by flooding, and the resulting annual average losses of about USD 250 million.

All that said, strengthening communities' resilience to flooding will arguably take more than merely setting aside funds for infrastructure investment. Swiss Re believes that an effective, efficient way forward is for city governments to plan for natural disasters more systematically than in the past. This will entail greater public-private collaboration – with the participation of risk management experts from the global re/insurance industry – to help drive adaptation and to ensure that the right kind of infrastructure projects are undertaken in the urban environment.

Help wanted: chief risk officer

Swiss Re has long advocated the appointment of public officials – both in cities and across countries – to oversee and coordinate concerted approaches to disaster risk. This is one reason why we are supporting 100 Resilience Cities, a Rockefeller Foundation initiative to help 100 cities around the world become more resilient. And our help will also include providing expert guidance in the hiring of Chief Resilience Officers, city officials who will be charged with developing resilience strategies for their communities.

Working together, smarter

For its part, Swiss Re has been practicing a smarter together approach through its work with governments and public sector entities around the world to develop strategies for risk prevention and financing in the context of natural catastrophes. Featuring customized risk-transfer solutions, these strategies are designed to provide swift disaster funding, offer protection to the most vulnerable, and find innovative ways of providing rapid claims payouts.

Updated 11 June 2014

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