The Making of a Riskier Future

This GFDRR report highlights the rapidly increasing disaster risk, and the drivers of that trend: population increase, urbanisation, climate change, improved socioeconomic conditions, and changing construction practices. Risk assessments have, until now, insufficiently accounted for the dynamic nature of risk. These dynamics must be considered in risk assessment, to ensure policy decisions and investment in risk management can  be robust enough to cope with future conditions.

We led authorship of this report during consultancy work for GFDRR, and moderated a follow-up panel discussion at the 2016 Understanding Risk Forum.



ThinkHazard! is a new web-based tool enabling non-specialists to consider the impacts of disasters on new development projects. It provides a simple flagging system to highlight the hazards present in a project area.

ThinkHazard! also provides recommendations and guidance on how to reduce the risk from each hazard within the project area, and provides links to additional resources such as country risk assessments, best practice guidance, additional websites.

Users of ThinkHazard! can quickly and robustly assess the level of river flood, earthquake, drought, cyclone, coastal flood, tsunami, volcano, and landslide hazard within their project area to assist with project planning and design.

We are providing technical leadership for GFDRR, during the ongoing development and upgrade of ThinkHazard!


Informing the development of tsunami
vertical evacuation strategies in New

  • Tsunami education and evacuation planning promote evacuation to high ground in the event of tsunami. However, In some low-lying coastal areas, the distance to safety on high ground or inland of the hazard zone may exceed the travel distance possible in the time before wave arrival. This is a particular problem in local-source tsunami with arrival times of less than one hour.


  • Vertical evacuation provides alternative refuge within the inundation zone. Buildings, towers or berms can provide refuge at elevations above the tsunami flow depth, but must be designed to be effective in the maximum credible tsunami. The potential benefits and costs of vertical evacuation buildings were demonstrated during the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, when thousands of people took refuge in such structures.

  • This PhD thesis enhanced the theoretical and methodological basis for development of vertical evacuation strategies in New Zealand. Numerical simulation of local-source tsunami was conducted at Napier, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, to establish the maximum credible inundation extent, flow depth and arrival times. The use of vertical evacuation in the 2011 Great East Japan tsunami, and surveys in New Zealand were used to investigate intended evacuation behaviour in a local-source tsunami. Finally, geo-spatial analysis was conducted to estimate pedestrian evacuation potential in local-source tsunami. The method is demonstrated in an assessment of the need for vertical evacuation in Napier.