Climate change, economic and demographic trends and a chronic shortfall in resilience investment are driving the risk higher

Marsh McLennan has launched a Flood Risk Index to help governments and organizations better assess their exposure and vulnerability to more frequent and severe flooding.

Over 2.2 billion people are exposed to flooding globally. Since 1980, over 4,500 flood disasters resulted in over $1 trillion in damages, accounting for 40% of natural catastrophe losses globally.

“Recent disasters in the US, Germany and China show that floods are pervasive and routinely underestimated,” said Rob Bailey, Director of Climate & Sustainability, Marsh McLennan and co-author of the Index.

”As climate change, economic and demographic trends, and a chronic shortfall in investment in resilience combine to drive risk higher, it is time for governments and businesses to rethink their approach to flood risk.

“This index will help organisations gain a greater understanding of where their people, assets, and supply chains are most at risk, and take steps to mitigate the worst potential impacts of flood.”

The index sets out the potential impact of flooding on populations and economic assets in 188 countries, analysing the risk on a country-by-country basis, by the type of hazard (river or coastal flooding), exposure to flood risk (the total people and assets in harm’s way) and vulnerability to flood damage (the susceptibility of people and assets to harm) for each nation.

It also allows users to compare scores for hazard, exposure and vulnerability between two countries, or between one country and the global average.

Users can also gain insight from geospatial data sets made available by multiple research institutions and international organizations to visually assess the potential impacts of river and coastal flooding on urban and rural areas.

It reveals the world’s largest economies are all severely threatened by flooding. In the United States, about 11 million people and $3 trillion in asset value are exposed to flooding. Only Japan ($3.7 trillion) and China ($7.5 trillion) have higher economic exposure.

The five G20 countries with the highest hazard scores for river and coastal flood are:

  1. Germany
  2. Argentina
  3. China
  4. France
  5. Russia

The five G20 countries with the largest shares of population and economic assets exposed to flooding are:

  1. China
  2. India
  3. Argentina
  4. Russia
  5. Germany

In the event of flooding, the five G20 countries where people and economic assets are most vulnerable to harm are:

  1. Indonesia
  2. Brazil
  3. India
  4. Russia
  5. Mexico