Contributing to the disaster risk conversation

Following his attendance at the Understanding Risk forum last week, John Bevington, Technical Director for Disaster Risk Management, fills us in on the disaster risk conversation.


What a week! Mark Lawless, Matt Reid and I joined 1,200 other delegates from 100 countries at the Understanding Risk (UR) Forum in Mexico City. It was the fifth biannual meeting of this kind and brought together modellers, forecasters, consultants, NGOs and governments – ably and generously hosted by the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Risk and Recovery.

Disaster risk management

We are currently refining our service offerings for international disaster risk management (DRM) consulting work – a plan that involves staff from all of our operating companies and many of our offices.

DRM is a fascinating sector and one in which we can apply our core company skills for the benefit of numerous development organisations and international financial institutions (IFIs), in countries that are often the most vulnerable to natural hazards and a changing climate. Our previous experience has told us that if this is a sector that we are serious about contributing to, we need to be actively participating in the wider disaster risk conversation.

Contributing to the conversation

During the event, I was involved in organising a session on disaster risk data schema, cat models, open data and interoperability in which I gave a perspective from our work, based on my thoughts and with input from some of the team at JBA Risk Management.

A very productive and interactive session on nature-based solutions for flood management was led by Mark with panellists from all around the world. Each of us spent each day (and some evenings) meeting new people, hearing from some truly inspirational speakers and catching up with old friends over a margarita or a plate of grasshoppers.

Supporting international development

This trip has crystallised some of my thoughts on how we may be able to support the international development and IFI sectors, focusing on:

  1. Providing technical assistance for the development of hydrometeorological systems and services to benefit hydromet – building flood models, producing flood maps and setting up forecasting systems. Helping service providers to build in-country capacity and providing an evidence base on which better DRM decisions can be made.
  2. Providing technical assistance to disaster risk financing and insurance – helping quantify risk through the use of our models and data, including in the emerging field of flood-based indices for forecast-based action or parametric insurance.

Demonstrating experience in both, we already have a few projects underway which utilise these skills. What our time in Mexico clearly demonstrated is that demand for these services and our skills is only increasing. Software and data enable better decision making for risk management and our data, systems and consulting services are now more recognisable in this field.

The three of us certainly followed three main rules of UR, set on the opening day:

  1. Learn new things
  2. Meet new people
  3. Have fun.

Want to know more?

If you’d like to know more about the international projects we are currently working on, or those that we are looking to bring in, please email John Bevington or Mark Lawless, Director.

You can also find out more on our international web pages.



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