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City resilience and flood risk

This month the Environment Agency has begun consulting on the national flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England proposing a new approach based on a recommendation made in the National Infrastructure Assessment.

The Agency's strategy will ensure the country is prepared for a potential 4 degree C rise in global temperatures and aims to ensure all infrastructure is resilient to flooding and coastal change by 2050, according to the National Infrastructure Commission. The NIC also advised that planning authorities should ensure all new development is resilient to flooding at a new national standard (annual likelihood of 0.5 % by 2050 and 0.1% for more densely populated areas ) for its lifetime and does not increase risk elsewhere.

Sir John Armitt, Chair of the NIC said 'Climate change is a real and growing threat to our way of many cases, we won't be able to stop flooding...but that doesn't mean we should just accept it ...we must be resilient and as our Assessment showed, this is affordable and achievable.'

Vulnerable infrastructure, including energy plants, water treatment facilities, underground communications cables and transportation networks including ports and railways are at the centre of rising sea levels and the economic impact could be seismic, according to the insurance industry.

'Most future global GDP growth is centred around cities located in coastal regions', says John Scott, Head of Sustainability Risk at Zurich Insurance Group, 'the knock-on impacts on trade and supply chains will potentially be far reaching.' Zurich quotes the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2019 estimating that 800 million people are vulnerable to a rise in sea level of 0.5 meters by 2050 - this includes 70 per cent of Europe's largest cities.

Zurich estimates that as more people move to other cities, the scale of potential migration and associated political ramifications will be daunting. Preventative planning and infrastructure investment is proven to minimize risk, but the scale of the problem the insurer says, requires collaboration of all stakeholders - community leaders, politicians, academics and urban planners. See John speak in the video clip below:

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