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Boosting systemic risk governance: Perspectives and insights from understanding national systems' approaches for dealing with disaster and climate risks

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By Teresa M. Deubelli, Rachel Norton, Reinhard Mechler, Kanmani Venkateswaran, K. McClune, and Anne-Sophie Stevance


The climate and COVID-19 crises demonstrate that risks are becoming increasingly severe, uncertain, and systemic. COVID-19 illustrated how a quickly evolving pandemic can bring social, economic and financial systems to a standstill. The climate crisis is already causing system failures and existential impacts, especially as compound events further challenge existing decision-making and governance structures that are often unequipped to manage systemic risks and cascading impacts.

In this background paper, we review the governance of systemic risk with the aim to identify opportunities and enabling factors for improving governance by managing what are increasingly interdependent risks with the potential for cascading impacts. We use insights from the IIASA-ISC “Building pathways to sustainability in a post-COVID world” initiative (Mechler et al., 2020) and forensic reviews of disasters, the Post-Event Review Capability (PERC; Venkateswaran et al., 2020), to illustrate how sub-national and national systems have governed systemic risks. More specifically, we explore risk governance successes and failures with the goal of developing insights on how to bolster systemic risk governance in policy and practice.