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  • Lamlela Plaatjie (South Africa)

Global Risk Assessment Framework



Managing disasters and systemic risks adequately rely on the coordination of resource mobilization between national governments, international organizations, and humanitarian organizations. The importance of coordinated actions amongst the international community has been demonstrated with the Covid19 pandemic. An integrated global society exposes international markets to global threats, yet integration also provides opportunities for cooperation and aligning synergies. Systemic risks affect the entire global ecosystem to varying degrees, with the most vulnerable facing the highest risk exposure. Risk analyses are important for evidence-based action plans and disaster management acts. A solid risk management foundation rests on comprehensive frameworks and policies to guide and inform efficient and effective disaster management responses. The goals for risk assessment frameworks should be to strengthen resilience and expand capacities for risk mitigation. Various strategies can be used such as investment in the public health sector; robust and coherent inter-sectoral disaster plans; adaptation of social protection systems to provide immediate, emergency cash transfers as temporary relief to economic pressures.


The drivers of risks include severe weather events; food insecurity; environmental deterioration; unsustainable resource consumption; geopolitical conflicts; financial crises; poverty and inequality. Designed by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the Global Risk Assessment Framework (GRAF) is a collaborative framework that provides a template for agile decision-making and disaster responses by mobilizing resources and innovations. The Sendai Framework for monitoring and reporting of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was introduced in 2015; other treaties and conventions including the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development preceded the introduction of the GRAF in 2019. A multidisciplinary approach is used to facilitate partnerships amongst global, regional, and national experts in the fields of disaster management; science; finance and investment; policymaking; innovation, and technology. Systemic risk information gathered using this approach can be used to support up-scaling intervention strategies. The four GRAF pillars are:

  • Strengthening access, analysis, and visualization of risk data

  • Catalyzing new knowledge for risk-informed development and humanitarian action

  • Technical support and tools

  • Influencing agenda setters and financing systems

Pillar 1 focuses on making risk information accessible and usable for decision-makers. Although valuable data may be available, in some instances it is not easily accessible and therefore not applied to disaster management guides. Creating centralized databases can optimize disaster risk reduction by disseminating data across sectors and across international borders. Should risk data not be available, GRAF experts have suggested research initiatives to establish proxy indicators or to apply models to supplement data gaps. The second pillar intends to concentrate on the development of innovative research and analysis techniques for new data packages. Through the establishment of a well-connected innovation ecosystem, decision-making is supported by innovative risk analytics. Providing technical support and preparing the tools for expanding the technical capacity needed to reduce the drivers of risks is the aim of pillar three.


By facilitating information flows and knowledge transfers, global linkages are useful mechanisms for guiding the design of local and bespoke interventions. The final GRAF Pillar 4 is based on harmonizing global synergies across the international disaster risk management community in all development sectors including finance, investment, and insurance; urban and regional planning; infrastructure; and technology. Natural disasters severely threaten progress in socioeconomic development. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are an imminent threat to social and economic stability. It is essential for risk management mechanisms to be proactive in their approach as the reality of these hazards are unavoidable and the consequences inevitable. However, the magnitude of impacts from these events can be reduced through collaborative action. Cooperation across international networks enables the mobilization and leveraging of diverse resources, allowing the mitigation and reduction of disaster impacts. The growing prevalence of systemic risks compels an urgent rebuttal for transformation from local, national, regional, and international decision-makers.


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