Risk Nexus Initiative

Metrics, Indicators and Knowledge for sustainability and resilience.

The Initiative

The Risk Nexus Initiative is a new partnership formed by leading institutions, engaged in risk, sustainability and resilience, with a long track record in the delivery of innovative and effective approaches to risk and risk management.

All new development investment, whether in infrastructure, social expenditure, urban development or agriculture, has the potential to either generate or reduce risk. Today´s risks were shaped by how those investments were made in the past. The future sustainability and resilience of societies and economies will be influenced by how they are made in the present. Unfortunately, actions through paradigms such as disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation have so far been insufficient to avoid continued risk accumulation in development.

The central focus of the Risk Nexus Initiative will be to ensure that all new development is fully risk informed, including, public and private investment in infrastructure and development, climate change adaptation, early warning, disaster risk reduction, actions to address displacement and migration, risk financing and transfer, cities and urban development.

The initiative will make actionable and operational the risk component of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, contribute to the achievement of the vision on prevention of the Secretary General of the United Nations and facilitate the strengthening of global sustainability and resilience


The Risk Nexus Initiative is accepting offers for longer term hosting of its Secretariat. For those organisations interested and able to provide hosting services, please submit a proposal detailing what services you can offer (provision of legal status, fund management, donor reporting, procurement, human resource management and others). The offers should be received by interimsecretariat@risknexusinitiative.org before September 31, 2017.

Risk Nexus Initiative partners INGENIAR, CIMA, UNEP-GRID and IDMC were hosted by CIMNE at the UPC, Barcelona on October 3 and 4 to develop a strategic framework in support of a new Global Risk Model (GRM-AW) focusing on the water and agriculture sectors. Under this framework, the Risk Nexus Initiative will address the global modelling of hazards such as agricultural and hydrological drought, wildfires and heatwaves in a fully probabilistic and globally comparable framework as well as impacts such a displacement and underlying risk drivers.

The Risk Nexus Initiative supported the Authority for Reconstruction with Change of the Government of Peru and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in convening experts for an international seminar called Resilient Peru 2021. The seminar held in Lima on October 24th, 2017 highlighted the importance of effective risk management to ensure competitiveness and sustainability and featured Risk Nexus Initiative partners CIMA and CIMNE as well as invited experts from the Economist Intelligence Unit, WillisTowersWatson, RMS, the Government of India, Standard and Poors, Terra Brasis, CH2M, WMO, UNOPS and other organisations.


Currently risk to sustainable and equitable development is managed through a number of different global frameworks. This leads to a fragmented policy approach to what in reality are interdependent risks. The rationale for the Risk Nexus Initiative is that interdependent risk is a common nexus that, although often unrecognised, threads and weaves through climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, environmental management and other policy approaches. The Risk Nexus Initiative will go beyond these fragmented policy approaches in favour of a holistic approach to risk, which explicitly recognises and embraces interdependence.

The expected outcome of the Risk Nexus Initiative is a paradigm shift towards appropriately discounting for risk in public and private investment in infrastructure, agriculture, social and economic development. By facilitating risk informed investment and infrastructure, the initiative would contribute to strengthening global sustainability and resilience as well as to integrating and operationalising policy approaches such as climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction

The principal outputs and deliverables of the Risk Nexus Initiative will be a new generation of risk metrics that condense interdependence and inform investment decisions, indicators that transcend fragmented policy approaches in order to monitor progress towards sustainability and resilience and enhanced risk knowledge and communication based on forensic studies of risk, new conceptual frameworks and valuations of risk and cutting-edge tools of social communication.


Probabilistic metrics condense the multiple interdependencies and complexities that configure risk into a single numerical value. They can inform investment in infrastructure, social and economic development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, the development of risk transfer and financing schemes and appropriate analysis and intelligence for investors.

The initiative will produce a new generation of probabilistic risk metrics, through the further development of the cutting-edge Global Risk Model (GRM). The existing GRM, which measures risks to the built environment, will be enhanced and extended to measure risks in the agriculture sector, to drought, flood and other hazards, including global catastrophic risks, such as multiple breadbasket failure. Water and food stress are expected to increase dramatically in the coming years and will generate concatenated risks in other domains, such as internal displacement, urban development and the environment.


Building on new risk metrics the initiative will develop a new generation of meta-indicators that measure progress in addressing the risk drivers that generate interdependent risks, rather than the progress towards specific targets in individual international frameworks such as Agenda 2030, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement. This will enable the identification of how progress in one framework supports progress in another and indeed, whether, globally, sustainability and resilience are actually being achieved.


The initiative will convene dialogues between experts and policy makers from what are currently fragmented and disconnected policy approaches (climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, displacement and migration, environment and urban development etc.) to reconceptualise risk and to generate new conceptual frameworks for risk governance, including how risks are valued and discounted, and how appropriate trade-offs between opportunity and risk are identified. The initiative will also use new technologies such as the Tangible Earth to communicate risk knowledge to a broad audience and will invest in the development of educational and training activities.


The Risk Nexus Initiative will be managed by a small Secretariat advised by a Steering Committee and supported by a Consultative Group. The Risk Nexus Initiative will be hosted in a relevant international organisation to be selected following a call for bids. Meanwhile the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) acts as the Interim Secretariat of the initiative. Clients and partners of the Risk Nexus Initiative will include United Nations organisations; international financial institutions and funds; non-governmental organisations and applied research institutions; governments; the risk financing and transfer sector; regulators in the financial sector, analysts and rating agencies; as well as local and city governments and communities at risk.


The Steering Committee consists of representatives of the partner institutions of the Risk Nexus Initiative and of its hosting agency. The Steering Committee sets the overall direction of the Risk Nexus Initiative; agrees it’s policies and strategies; approves annual work plans, monitors performance and provides accountability to those who contribute financial resources.


The Consultative Group is an open and inclusive forum for the partners and clients of the Risk Nexus Initiative including organisations of the UN system; donors; governments; international financial institutions; non-governmental organisations; foundations; academic, scientific and technical organisations; regulators and the private sector, in particular from the insurance and risk modelling industry.


The Executive Secretariat of the Risk Nexus Initiative will organize and facilitate the work of the initiative through the implementation of work-plans and through the negotiation of agreements with partners and clients Additionally, the secretariat will support the Consultative Group and Steering Committee with the planning and organisation of their meeting logistics, agendas, and procedures.

Steering Committee

Alexandra Bilak


Alexandra Bilak is the Director of the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). She leads a team of experts providing global estimates and analysis on internal displacement worldwide and directs IDMC’s flagship Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID). She has particular interest in understanding the structural drivers and economic impacts of protracted and recurrent internal displacement. Alexandra holds a Master’s degree in International Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, and a DEA in African Studies and Political Science from the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. Prior to becoming Director, Alexandra led IDMC’s Policy and Research work on displacement in the context of conflict and violence, disasters and climate change, and development investments.

Omar Dario Cardona


Omar Dario Cardona is an associate professor at the Environmental Studies Institute (IDEA) of the National University of Colombia (UNC) in Manizales and researcher and professor at the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) and the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE) in Barcelona; where he has led and developed multi-hazard probabilistic vulnerability and risk models, such as CAPRA. He was responsible for the technical coordination of the Global Risk Model (GRM). He holds a PhD in Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics from the UPC and in 2004, he was awarded the UN Sasakawa Prize for his contributions to global disaster risk assessment and management. Omar Dario was formerly National Director of Disaster Risk Management of Colombia and serves on numerous international boards and committees.

Allan Lavell


Allan Lavell holds a PhD in Geography from the London School of Economics and Political Science and is currently Coordinator of the Programme for the Social Study of Disaster Risk and Climate Change Adaptation at the Secretariat General’s Office of the Latin American Social Science Faculty-FLACSO- in San Jose, Costa Rica. He was a founding member of the Latin American Network for the Social Study of Disaster Prevention-LA RED. and in 2015 was awarded the UN Sasakawa prize for contributions to disaster risk management under the theme “Forging the Future”. His present work involves support on risk reduction in public investment, local level training for climate action and sustainable development and urban resettlement for risk reduction.

Esteban Leon


Esteban Leon is the Chief Technical Advisor of the City Resilience Profiling Programme of UN-Habitat. He has a background in economics, finance, shelter/housing and settlements program design and management, capacity building, as well as building construction and reconstruction projects in post-crisis situations and urban resilience building. He has worked in the private sector in Argentina and Bolivia, with NGOs in Bolivia and Kenya and since 2002 with UN-Habitat developing programmes on city resilience and post-disaster housing in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Pakistan, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Peru, Colombia, Georgia, Gaza, Haiti, El Salvador, Fiji &Samoa and lately Lebanon, Syria, Philippines and Ecuador. Esteban is Chair of the IASC Reference Group on Meeting Humanitarian Challenges in Urban Areas (MHCUA) and of the Medellin Collaboration for Urban Resilience. He has programme experience

Richard S. Olson


Richard S. Olson is Director of the Extreme Events Institute and the International Hurricane Center at Florida International University. He holds a PhD from the University of Oregon in political science. Colombia. He has been involved in disaster response, research, and evaluation in more than 20 major disasters since the 1972 Managua earthquake. His most recent publications include “Violent Conflict and Disaster Risk Reduction Including Climate Change Adaptation,” in I. Kelman, JC Gaillard, and J. Mercer, Routledge Handbook of Disaster Risk Reduction Including Climate Change Adaptation and “Disasters as Crisis Triggers for Critical Junctures? The 1976 Guatemala Case,” Latin American Politics and Societies.

Pascal Peduzzi


Pascal Peduzzi is the director of GRID-Geneva at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He holds a PhD and a MSc in Environmental Sciences, with specialization in remote sensing and GIS. His main areas of interest are global environment and climate change, ecosystem based adaptation and disaster risk management. Pascal coordinated the Global Risk Analysis for the 2009 and 2011 UN Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction as well as the development of the exposure model used in the Global Risk Model. He was a Lead Author of the IPCC Special Report on Extreme Events and the creator of the PREVIEW Global Risk Data Platform.

Aromar Revi


Aromar Revi is the Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) and an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and the Law and Management schools of the University of Delhi. He is an international practitioner, consultant, researcher and educator with over 33 years of interdisciplinary experience in public policy and governance, political economy of reform, development, technology, sustainability, risk and human settlements. He is Co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), from where he helped lead a successful global campaign for an urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 11). Aromar is also member of the Managing Board of Cities Alliance the global partnership for sustainable cities and urban poverty reduction; and is a Fellow of the India China Institute at the New School University.

Roberto Ruderi


Roberto Ruderi is Research Director and Project Leader at CIMA Research Foundation, Savona, Italy. Roberto is a hydraulic engineer with over 12 years of international experience in flood modelling, forecasting and management. He holds a PhD in hydraulic engineering from the University of Padova and was a visiting fellow at MIT. He was responsible for coordinating the flood hazard component of the Global Risk Model (GRM) and is an advisor and consultant to numerous European and international bodies and initiatives on risk and risk management. He is a member of the Global Flood Partnership and the Italian National Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Margareta Wahlström


Margareta Wahlström has more than 35 years of experience in disaster relief, disaster risk management, development and political work with the United Nations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). She joined the Swedish Red Cross in 1987 and in 1989 the IFRC in Geneva where in 1991 she became Deputy Director of Operations and in 1995 Under Secretary General. In 2002 she joined the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan as Chief of Staff and subsequently Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General. In 2004, she was appointed Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations and in 2008 Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. She lead and guided the multi stakeholder and intergovernmental process to develop and negotiate the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 – 2030. Margareta is currently President of the Swedish Red Cross.

Paul Ladd


Paul Ladd is the Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). Previously, he directed the UNDP Team on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the UNDP policy team on inclusive globalization – including trade, development finance, and migration. In 2008-2009, he supported the Office of the UN Secretary-General on the financial and economic crisis, and engagement with the G20. Before joining the UN, Paul was a policy adviser on international development for the UK Treasury, Chief Economist at Christian Aid, Economic Adviser at DFID in Pretoria, and Financial Adviser at the Central Bank of Guyana.He holds a MSc in Quantitative Development Economics from the University of Warwick and an Honorary Doctorate in Law (LLD), also by the University of Warwick.

Margareta Wahlström


Shin-ichi Takemura is an anthropologist and media designer who is Professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design, Director of Earth Literacy Program. In 2002, he invented the world’s first interactive digital globe the Tangible Earth (http://www.tangible-earth.com/en/), which won the Gold Prize of Good Design Award, Japan in 2005 and is permanently exhibited at the National Science Museum in Amsterdam, Experimentarium (Copenhagen) and the National Museum of Natural History (Tokyo). Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan he became committee member of the Reconstruction Design Council of the Japanese government and since 2012 was in charge of the design of the United Nations Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR) including the development of a tablet version of the Tangible Earth.

Paul Ladd


Wadid Erian is senior advisor for sustainable development and programme coordinator of the Climate Risk Nexus Initiative (LAS-CRNI) and Arab Geographical Information Room hosted by Arab Water Council (LAS-AGIR/AWC) at the League of Arab States. Formerly he was Director of the Land and Water Uses Division at the Arab Centre for the Studies of Drylands and Arid Zones (ACSAD). Since 2001 he has been a Professor of Soil Science at Cairo University and has studied drought, land degradation and vegetation cover in more than 100 countries. He was a member of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR) and Lead Author of the IPCC/SREX WGII report, 2012.



Bina Desai

Interim Secretariat Risk Nexus Initiative

at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)


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