Mind the Risk

The world's sprawling cities are centres of economic activity and growth. But when a natural disaster hits a densely populated area, the effects can be catastrophic. A Swiss Re study looks at the human and economic risks faced by urban communities around the globe. Please also check out our related facts sheets on Risky Cities.

Risky cities


Floods, cyclones and rising sea levels disrupt the lives of many people around the world. Communities will face more damage as urbanisation advances and our climate continues to change. Many towns and cities are unprepared for this future. Their floodwalls are too low, water supplies too fragile and drainage systems inadequate to deal with the impact of extreme weather. The question is how do we allocate the limited resources we have in the most effective way. To address this challenge, KfW, Swiss Re and Barisal City Corporation teamed up to develop an adaptation strategy for Barisal in Bangladesh. This will help the people there adapt to the impacts a changing climate will bring.


Istanbul is Turkey‘s powerhouse, generating more than 40% of the country‘s GDP. The 14 million people in its metropolitan area live under the constant threat of severe earthquakes. And the next one could very well be just around the corner.

Los Angeles:

The Southern California Earthquake Center says that the probability of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake striking Los Angeles over the next 30 years is 67%. So it's vital that LA is able to rapidly mobilize all the resources necessary to bounce back following a disaster of this nature.

Mexico City:

Mexico City, a metropolis of around 21 million people is plagued by regular summer flooding which makes life utterly miserable for the city’s inhabitants, just one recent example being the inundation caused by Tropical Storm Ernesto in 2012. It is also exposed to substantial earthquake risk.


Rome is steeped in 2500 years of history and is one of the world’s most celebrated cultural centres. What is perhaps not generally known is that this city is also exposed to a high risk of flooding and earthquakes.


Most of the world’s riskiest cities are situated in East Asia. Besides being exposed to tropical cyclones and flooding, many cities in the region are also threatened by seismic activity, including Tokyo, Taipei and Manila.




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