‘Radical rethink’ on flood preparation needed: CEO

‘Radical rethink’ on flood preparation needed: CEO | Insurance Business Australia

‘Radical rethink’ on flood preparation needed: CEO
An insurer’s examination of global flood resilience measures, which emphasise pre-mitigation, could present lessons for Australia too.

Zurich Insurance Group has released two new research papers examining global flood resilience, which have led it to make calls for a renewed focus on prevention and mitigation.

Group general insurance CEO Mike Kerner said:  “There is a need for a radical rethink on the approach to mitigating and preparing for floods. We need to focus more on pre-event mitigation, as opposed to focusing almost solely on recovery. Because we know that ‘after a flood’ is really just ‘before the next flood.’”

The Zurich Insurance Group’s two papers focus both on successful measures used recently, and the future impact severe flooding may have. One report, which was produced as part of a multi-year collaboration with the Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, focuses on how mass urbanization and climate change may worsen the impact of floods.

Enhancing community flood resilience: a way forward, suggests that in the past two decades, nearly 87% of aid funding went toward emergency response, reconstruction and rehabilitation, and only 13% toward reducing and managing risks.

“The key to enhancing flood resilience,” Kerner said, “lies in increasing our understanding of the full breadth and scale of the risks and how to best protect against them.”

In addition, the report points out that for every US$100 spent on development aid, only 40 cents has been invested in defending that aid from the impact of disaster.

Zurich is testing a proposed framework to measure communities’ ability to withstand floods and improve resilience by collecting data in countries prone to flooding including Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal, and Peru.

The second report is a retrospective of last year’s massive flooding in central Europe, particularly Germany, Austria and Switzerland. That report highlights some successful measures that were used to increase flood protection, such as increasing the height of a dam in Germany.