Local to global: our approach to building flood resilience

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

What is the change that the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance wants to see in the world, and what pathways are we taking to achieve our goals? Huong Hoang, Regional Advocacy Manager for Mercy Corps, talks us through it.

At the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, we believe that communities on the front lines of the climate crisis must be given the support they need to adapt to a changing world. That’s why our member organisations (consisting of humanitarian, NGO, research and private sector partners) work together to make the case for increased funding for adaptation programmes, as well as improvements to policymaking from the local to the global level.

Knowledge and evidence – the first step

It all starts with research conducted at the local level, conducted with the full participation of the communities affected by, or at risk of, flooding. Using our Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities (FRMC) tool, we gather data on existing levels of resilience, in order to determine the interventions that will have the best results.

Similarly, after a major disaster occurs, we analyse exactly what happened to determine what could have been done differently to minimise loss, and what steps should be taken to ensure that resilience-building is incorporated into the recovery process. We also look for opportunities to share these lessons with flood-prone communities across the globe, so that they can act before they experience a similar situation.

Our partners across the Alliance lean into their individual areas of expertise, adding to our pool of knowledge by gathering evidence relating to climate change and disaster risk reduction. To date we’ve published studies on climate finance, budget tracking, loss and damage, the impact of private sector investment, and much more.

The importance of increased funding

The knowledge and evidence that we gather from our programmes points the way to a better future, in which more funding is available for climate adaptation work around the world – and in particular, where it is most needed.

We make the case for ex-ante action that not only saves lives and livelihoods, but is also pragmatic from an economic perspective. Increased funding for such programmes pays for itself several times over; the evidence suggests that every $1 spent on flood prevention saves $5 in future costs related to disaster recovery.

Examples of positive change, where interventions in flood-prone communities have led directly to a higher level of safety and security, help to cement this argument. For example, through targeted advocacy and evidence-sharing, we supported the government of Sudurpaschim Province, Nepal in adoping a local level financing mechanism for resilience.

You’ll find us sharing such stories from our programmes at major events ranging from regional conferences to scientific forums, as well as global focal points like the upcoming COP27 in Egypt. Our findings are also published in our Resource Library, where anyone can access them.

Making policy fit for purpose

Of course, improving flood resilience levels around the world is not just about money. Long-term success requires changes in laws and policy, at every level. Our advocacy training provides communities with the knowledge and tools needed to influence local decision-makers, and encourage changes to legislation and strategy.

Meanwhile we engage with national governments and multilateral organisations, offering our evidence in pursuit of a climate-smart, risked informed approach to development policy. At the heart of our approach is the belief that decisions taken at the global level must always consider the situation at the local level.

The way forward

Our programming informs our advocacy, which it turn influences donors and policymakers in a way that increases and improves support for our community work. These mutually reinforcing priorities bring us closer to the ultimate vision of the Alliance: a world in which floods have no negative impact on peoples’ or businesses’ ability to thrive.

To find out more about the objectives of the Alliance, and to take a closer look at our Theory of Change, head here.

Other useful resources include ISET International’s latest Progress Report, and Practical Action’s annual Impact Brief.

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