Making Cities Resilient:
My City is Getting Ready
Essential Two: Identify, Understand and Use Current and Future Risk Scenarios

"City governments should identify and understand their risk, including hazards, exposure and vulnerabilities, and use this knowledge to inform decision making."

Disaster risk management need to be based on an understanding of disaster risk scenarios in all its dimensions of hazard characteristics, local exposures, capacity and vulnerability. Risk scenarios analysis and assessments therefore are essential for informed decision making, prioritizing projects and planning for disaster risk reduction measures (prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response). Unless local governments have a clear understanding of the risks they face as well as fully discuss with the public and other stakeholders about risk scenarios, implementation of meaningful disaster risk reduction measures may be ineffective.
Identify the most probable and most severe (worst-case) scenarios
  • Take into consideration how hazards might change over time given the impact of factors such as urbanization and climate change, how multiple hazards might combine, and how repeated small scale disaster events (if there is a relevant risk of these) might accumulate in their impact over time;
  • Prepare and maintain an updated database on: geographic areas exposed and territorial impact; population segments, communities and housing exposed; economic assets and activities exposed including its impact on the social, health, education, environmental, and cultural heritage; critical infrastructure assets exposed, the consequent risk of cascading failures from one asset system to another;
  • Estimate timescales over which risks, vulnerabilities and impacts occur as well as responses required;
  • Create and publish maps of risk and exposure detailing the above.

Make use of the knowledge from risk scenarios for development decisions

  • Seek inputs from the full range of stakeholders (including ethnic and social groupings);
  • Update the risk scenario assessment regularly;
  • Set the basis for current and future investment decisions;

Widely communicate and use risk scenario assessments for decision-making purposes, and updating of response and recovery plans.


Latin America
National and City Governments Introduce Requirements to Review Disaster Risk Impact on New Development Projects

Many countries, particularly in Latin America, have systems for assessing the impact of disaster risk on productive infrastructure. The UNDRR Global Assessment Report 2011 highlights Peru, which established a pioneering legal requirement that all public investment projects be evaluated for disaster risk. If the risk is not addressed, the project will not be funded. Of the US $10 billion investment approved in 2008, about a half was to be executed by local governments.
Similarly, under its Disaster Risk Management (DRM) framework, the city of Cape Town has established the principle that the Municipal DRM Center be involved in the project review process on all new development projects.
Read more about opportunities and incentives for disaster risk reduction management at: and consult Cape Town’s DRM framework at


Cuttack (India)
Data Collection and Risk Mapping for Urban Development Planning

Mahila Milan is a women’s group taking leadership roles in informal settlements. The mapping process in Cuttack, India is carried out by community organisations comprised of residents of informal settlements and other districts, through a partnership between local Mahila Milan groups and local slum dweller federations. The data gathered is used to generate digital maps for city authorities and to negotiate support for upgrading or relocating houses, thus reducing disaster risk. This process is applied in all informal settlements and results in an accurate, detailed and disaggregated database on risk and vulnerability for the entire city, showing the boundaries of all informal settlements.
For more information:


World Bank, UN-Habitat, UNEP, and Cities Alliance

An Urban Risk Assessment Framework

The World Bank, with UN-Habitat, UNEP, and Cities Alliance, has developed an urban risk assessment framework based on experiences in many cities. The urban risk assessment offers a flexible approach that project and city managers can use to identify feasible measures to assess a city’s risk. The methodology focuses on three reinforcing pillars that collectively help to understand urban risk: a hazard impact assessment, an institutional assessment, and a socioeconomic assessment. The assessment is based on four principal building blocks to improve the understanding of urban risk: historical incidence of hazards, geospatial data, institutional mapping, and community participation. The URA is flexible in how it is applied, depending on available resources and institutional capacity in a given city. Read more at:


Tools and Resources