Who we are

The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance (the Alliance) is a multi-sectoral partnership focusing on finding practical ways to help communities in developed and developing countries strengthen their resilience to flood risk.

Our vision is that floods have no negative impact on people’s and business’ ability to thrive.

The Alliance consists of humanitarian, NGO, research, and private sector partners who work together to increase public and private investment in evidence-informed community-based flood resilience.

The Alliance was originally launched in 2013 with the goal of shifting focus from flood response and recovery to pre-event risk reduction. Based on the successes achieved in this first phase, the Zurich Foundation extended funding for a second five-year phase in 2018, and in 2020 support was further extended through to 2024.

Alliance Partners

Originally five organisations working together, the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance now comprises 9 members:

Our definition of resilience

The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance understands the concept of resilience as:

The ability of a system, community, or society to pursue its social, ecological, and economic development and growth objectives, while managing its disaster risk over time in a mutually reinforcing way.”

Our objectives 

At the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019 we committed to:

  • Scaling up our work in climate action, including advocating for the generation of an additional US $1 billion from public and private sources in climate-smart, risk-informed development, which builds resilience.
  • Helping make 2 million people more resilient to flooding. We will elevate community voices and research findings with international donors and all levels of government to show why increased investment in flood resilience is urgently needed.
  • Engaging with other initiatives, including the Risk Informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) of the Resilience Adaptation workstream.

Our Theory of Change

To achieve our ambitious vision and meet the targets we have set out for the Alliance, we have developed an integrated Theory of Change which illustrates how we are combining our activities across sectors and scales to achieve our goals:

Achieving, and measuring, change

To track our progress towards the Theory of Change made on global and community levels, and to document our impact we have developed a Monitoring, Reporting, and Learning (MRL) system.

Using this system, we measure the change we are achieving and how we are achieving it to support better cross-Alliance coordination and strategy.

Input

  • money
  • staff time
  • internal and external expertise

Output

  • knowledge products
  • community interventions

Outcomes

  • plans, policies and finance commitments
  • increases in stakeholder knowledge, capacity, and collaboration
  • demonstration of flood resilience best practices changes in stakeholder behaviour

Impact

  • increased spending on flood resilience
  • improved flood resilience policies
  • increase in community flood resilience

How we work 

As an Alliance we work to achieve our objectives through long-term, flexible community programmes, producing new research, sharing our knowledge, and influencing key stakeholders on flood and climate resilience.

Our workstream structure supports sector specific work, while cross-workstream collaboration allows us to aggregate that work to deliver shared objectives. 

The workstreams and governance bodies together support a distributed operational model designed to allow all partners to take responsibility for the delivery of Alliance objectives, with no single organisation, including Zurich, being the sole ‘manager’ of the Alliance.

Our priorities

Why floods?

Floods affect more people globally than any other type of natural hazard. 

This is only going to get worse with increases in population, urbanisation, and economic development in hazard prone areas, coupled with increasing frequency an intensity of extreme weather events resulting from climate change.  

Flood risks are increasingly interconnected and interdependent. 

Why focus on communities?

Decisions that affect flood risk and resilience are often made at the global and national levels. Yet the impacts of floods are felt most immediately by communities. 

The community level is an effective entry point for resilience action because communities often know best how and where to focus activities for impact.

Working with communities we can demonstrate tangible impacts on peoples’ lives and develop good practices to shape policy at higher levels.

Why resilience?

Increasing pre-event investment in flood resilience will reduce the losses and damages caused by floods. Every USD 1 invested in flood risk reduction has been documented to save on average USD 5 in future losses.

To be resilient a community, system, or society must be able to continue on their development and growth path while managing disaster risk over time. This means investments should reduce risk or deliver resilience in addition to development.

Why measure resilience?

One of the best ways to influence policy and spending is through evidence-based flood resilience. Yet when we started our programme, we realised there were no internationally validated methods for measuring disaster resilience. Consequently, our starting point was the development of the Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities (FRMC), a flood resilience measurement framework and tool for communities.

We apply this tool to first measure resilience in the communities we work in to identify resilience gaps and strengths, and then to co-generate flood resilience approaches and solutions with local stakeholders.

More broadly, by measuring resilience we hope to contribute the evidence needed to increase social, political, and financial investments in flood resilience.

Where we work 

The Alliance operates in more than 250 communities in some of the world’s most flood prone areas. We’ve chosen the communities we work with based on their: 
  • Flood risk;
  • Flood vulnerability; and
  • Interest on the part of both the community and local authorities to work with the Aliance.
Use the map to find out more about the work Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance partners are doing around the world. Or learn about all the countries we work in here.

Our knowledge 

We facilitate learning on flood resilience gaps and good practices to:

  • Ensure that practitioners can learn from our experiences and flood resilience approaches and
  • Generate evidence to influence flood resilience investments and policy.

Solutions we can offer

Flood Resilience Portals

Whether you live or work in a flood-prone community, or carry out research for the benefit of those who do, the Flood Resilience Portals provide easy access to the knowledge and practical solutions you need to build resilience.

We know from experience that resilience is best built locally. That’s why we, alongside this Global Flood Resilience Portal, also provide locally-specific information, often in the local language, through interconnected regional portals.

Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities

The Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities (FRMC) framework and tool was created by the Alliance in 2013 and is an innovation in community flood resilience theory and practice.

The FRMC allows users to generate evidence on how a given area or community is already resilient to floods, as well as providing a guide to further build this resilience.

 

Post Event Review Capability

The award-winning Post Event Review Capability (PERC) methodology was created to conduct independent research and provide independent reviews of large flood events.

The PERC helps to understand why a hazard became a disaster and identify opportunities for building resilience.

 

What we’ve learnt so far

Every year the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance shares our achievements, and the knowledge we’ve gained, in a learning report. 

In the second year of Phase II of the Alliance, we have achieved and learnt:

We have reached people through diverse interventions grounded in the FRMC process. Many Alliance communities have applied their flood resilience knowledge and actions to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have contributed to improved flood resilience policy and spending in the countries we work in and to global policy and spending commitments. Now, given the COVID-19 pandemic, we are advocating for flood resilience funding and policy commitments to be honored.

Decision-makers are more likely to take up policy recommendations backed by strong, quantitative evidence of resilience gaps and good practices. 

Resilience actions must have co-benefits for other hazards, or at the very least not lead to maladaptation, and thereby contribute to building multi-hazard resilience. 

Programme sustainability can in part be achieved by building strong local relationships that lead to collaboration and coordination between local stakeholders as issues and crises emerge.  

Practitioners and the communities are better able to work towards resilience outcomes if they go through a ‘resilience learning process’ to understand what resilience means in their local context.