Speaker: Brian Walsh
Title: Breaking the link between natural disasters & poverty
Abstract: Conventional risk assessments use asset losses to measure disaster severity. Here, we present a framework for incorporating the ability of affected households to cope with and recover from shocks, based on an explicit representation of microeconomic recovery processes. This leads to risk assessments that provide new insights into the aggregate costs of disasters, and strategies for risk mitigation that complement development programs. Its first conclusion is the close link between natural disasters and poverty: in the Philippines, we find that half a million people are pushed into transient poverty each year by shocks. The second conclusion is that priorities for risk- management interventions differ depending on which risk metric is used. Disaster risk assessments that focus on asset losses tend to drive investments toward the wealthiest areas, while a wider accounting of disaster costs generates a different set of priorities. Finally, we use this framework to quantify the benefits of interventions such as adaptive social protection, which build resilience to disasters even without reducing asset losses.
Bio: Brian Walsh is a climate economist at the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), where his research focuses on linking anti-poverty programming with disaster risk assessments and mitigation strategies. Prior to joining the World Bank in 2017, he was a research scholar at IIASA (Ecosystems Services & Management group) in Laxenburg, Austria. Mr. Walsh holds a BA in Great Books from the University of Notre Dame and a PhD in particle physics from Yale University.
Host: Jane Baldwin