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Marsh McLennan has published ‘Staying Above Water: A Systemic Response to Rising Flood Risk’, a new report exploring systemic responses to rising flood risk, which is putting flood risk management under strain.

Flood risk management is unable to cope with current levels of risk, let alone change risk trajectories globally, says the report.

Underpinned by new data from the Marsh McLennan Flood Risk Index, Staying Above Water discusses risk drivers, impacts, and the inadequacies of current risk management strategies, offering a rationale for urgent action.

Recent disasters have exposed the failures of current flood risk management strategies in both high- and low-income countries. Just two months into 2023 and Cyclone Gabrielle caused deadly flooding in New Zealand, and floods in California destroyed roads, levees and power networks. This follows two years of devastating and deadly flooding events across the world.  

Risk drivers like climate change are amplifying the threat of flooding, and it is imperative that countries begin preparing for what is next.

According to the Marsh McLennan Flood Risk Index:

  • 1 out of 3 people globally will be threatened by flooding in a 1.5 °C warming scenario, which could happen as early as 2030.
  • 41 percent of power generation capacity, 37 percent of international airport seats, and 52 percent of international port outflows globally will be threatened by flooding in a 2°C warming scenario, which could manifest as early as 2050.
  • One-third of the world’s urban areas and nearly half (45 percent) of the population will be threatened by flooding in a 3.5 °C warming scenario, which could happen by the end of this century.

Given the scale and complexity of the challenge, transforming flood risk management requires the deployment of a portfolio of solutions in a forward-looking, cross-cutting, and collaborative manner. For this to happen, society must demonstrate vision, move beyond unsustainable paradigms of protection, and balance responses to current crises with a longer-term focus on resilience. Bold steps from the public and private sector are needed to shift society from a responsive to an anticipatory approach to flood resilience.

Staying Above Water advances three ways forward to transform flood risk management:

  • Learning to live with floods through a cross-societal push for resilience, with communities, businesses, and governments implementing small-scale measures to mitigate risks and minimize damage;
  • Building strategic protection by deploying systemic interventions to protect critical assets and ensure financial resilience; and
  • Preparing for relocation by facilitating resettlements of people and assets from high-risk areas in a timely, equitable, and financially viable manner.

More details.

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