The 'Scoping study on compound, cascading and systemic risks in the Asia-Pacific', undertaken by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and Asia Pacific Scientific and Technical Advisory Group (AP-STAG), presents an important opportunity to explore the challenges and potential associated with better understanding and managing of compound, cascading and systemic risks in the global context, focusing, in particular, on the application of these concepts in the Asia Pacific region. As a scoping study, the report attempts to map and study the extent and nature of available studies and work on compound, cascading and systemic risks. Thereby, it brings forth prevalent terminologies, concepts and pertinent features of these risks. The scoping study was conducted through a methodology comprising: (1) a thorough review of existing literature; and (2) a review of the invited case studies to capture examples, good practices, and evidence of compound, cascading and systemic risks, and their management in the region. The study analyses compound, cascading and systemic risks by understanding the triggering and triggered hazards, type of underlying vulnerabilities, the scale of the associated effects and impacts -- global, regional, national or local, other driving factors and interactions therein, that exacerbate the risk to exposed and vulnerable communities, infrastructures and systems. The study proposes six basic principles for the management of such risks. These are:
1. Identify interconnectedness between root causes, drivers and effects of all dimensions of risk A holistic assessment of all dimensions of risk, namely: hazard, exposure, vulnerability along with identifying the interconnectedness among their root causes, drivers and effects across systems and at varied scales, is crucial for formulating future actions to better understand and manage compound, cascading and systemic risks.
2. Focus on strengthening the resilience of interconnected systems through a 'systems approach In order to manage compound, cascading and systemic risks effectively, focus should include strengthening the resilience of a given system and interconnected networks, via a systems approach. This helps in identifying vulnerable linkages and potential tipping points prevailing in the system and networks, and supports building in redundancies and strengthening their resilience and sustainability.
3. Strengthen transboundary risk governance through coordinated policy and planning For effective management of compound, cascading and systemic risks, active engagement and coordination of transboundary governing bodies and intergovernmental organizations is a necessity, with time-bound roles and responsibilities fixed for all stakeholders.
4. **Invest in social systems for reducing vulnerability and advancing overall well-being **Safety-net systems and social services such as health, public health, nutrition, and education should be promoted for protecting vulnerable groups and advancing their overall well-being.
5. Promote ecosystem-based approaches for building resilience to complex risks Ecosystems should be sustainably managed, conserved, and restored, to reduce environmental drivers of disaster risk. This is because ecosystem-based approaches and nature-based solutions help to prevent and mitigate or buffer disaster impacts, and thereby, build resilience. Ecosystem-based adaptation and nature-based solutions improve the health of ecosystems and restore or protect ecosystem services, reducing vulnerabilities and exposure, and thus, reducing risks.
6. Invest in innovative risk-informed multi-sectoral planning and interventions at multi-scalar levels Risk-informed decision-making approaches should be adopted for multi-sectoral planning and interventions at multi-scalar levels including national, regional and local. These should be backed by adequate and robust disaster risk reduction financing mechanisms and sustainable financial resources.
The study identifies pertinent gaps in the current understanding and management of compound, cascading and systemic risks. These are:
- Definition and scope of compound, cascading and systemic risks are under-studied.
- Lack of established scientific approaches for assessment and management of compound, cascading and systemic risks.
- Limited record of compound, cascading and systemic events and impacts in disaster databases.
- Inadequacy of institutional and financial mechanisms to address compound, cascading and
- systemic risks.
- Limited stakeholder awareness on compound, cascading and systemic risks.
- Inadequate resilience standards and their compliance in critical infrastructures.
- Insufficient integration of climate change action and DRR measures.
The study brings forth the following key lessons learnt:
- Consideration of all dimensions of risk for its assessment and management.
- Developing disaggregated vulnerability and exposure databases for better anticipation and management of compound, cascading and systemic risks.
- Adaptive and integrative risk governance to manage compound, cascading and systemic risks.
- Innovative risk reduction financing mechanisms for compound, cascading and systemic risks.
- Evidence-based mapping at spatio-temporal scales via scenario-building.
- Understanding and addressing the risks involved in critical infrastructure systems.
- Dynamic multi-hazard disaster risk management plans.
- Adopting ecosystem-based approaches to mitigate and manage risk.
- Investing in systems that protect and advance the overall well-being.
The study concludes with the development of a framework to strengthen governance of compound, cascading and systemic risks in the Asia Pacific region and offers thematic recommendations at local, national and regional scales. By outlining the key gaps, lessons learnt and thematic recommendations, the study provides a way forward for the development of a roadmap for designing short-term research agenda, undertaking collaborative research and actions in the Asia-Pacific for better understanding and management of compound, cascading and systemic risks.