More than ever, emerging risks due to climate change, radicalisation and cyber threats are challenging government efforts to protect society and economic activities from harm. The effective governance of risks now requires strong partnerships between government and the private sector to exchange knowledge and good practices. The OECD High Level Risk Forum provides a platform for risk managers to forge a collective vision on the most critical risks and how to manage them.
How to govern critical risks
The consequences of climate change are already seen in more frequent and more destructive disasters and rising economic costs. The Forum explored efforts to achieve policy coherence between multiple risk management agendas. In particular, it focused on the coordination mechanisms across government to align policies for disaster risk reduction and climate risk adaptation. Speakers highlighted examples of how mainstreaming these priorities has led different ministries to identify common challenges and work together across bureaucratic silos to achieve cooperative synergies.
Every year the majority of economic losses from disasters are due to damaged or disrupted infrastructure systems. The Forum discussed recent developments in national strategies on resilience of critical infrastructure assets and systems. The leading practices take a systems based approach, and some countries are evolving to take into account the identification of critical functions and analysis of their vulnerabilities. The OECD presented initial results from its monitoring of how countries govern critical infrastructure resilience and described the process to build composite indicators in 2020 as useful benchmarks in the design and reform of national strategies. Measures to protect electoral systems from interference was discussed as a specific example of efforts to enhance critical infrastructure resilience. Also in the context of strengthening infrastructure resilience the Forum discussed the use of cost benefit and cost effectiveness analysis to make the most of limited public resources. Participants explained the methodologies their governments used to value intangible benefits such as the protection of lives, environmental quality and cultural heritage. Going forward the aim is to increase use of these accountability tools given rising expenditures in disaster risk reduction.
The heavy burdens that disasters create on government budgets are exacerbated in the current context of limited fiscal space. Yet, transfer of large-scale financial risks is a core capability in the resilience planning of governments that often fails to take place. The Forum explored why different mechanisms available for large-scale risk transfers between the public and private sectors are not adopted more frequently. Presentations on the tools of financial resilience focused on the success factors of such public/ private partnerships, explained how these products could be more extensively used and what governance bottlenecks impede their uptake.
Identifying emerging and critical risks
Governments exchanged their views on the most pressing emerging risks and how these have been taken into account in their risk registers. Discussions focused on underlying driving factors such as climate change, urbanisation and cyber threats. They discussed how to leverage the results of National Risk Assessments as tools to help decide where to invest in capabilities to mitigate, prepare for and respond to risks. The discussion highlighted an exchange of country practices on how to prepare for extreme events. Participants shared their government’s method and experience in mapping the broad range of capabilities in place to manage critical risks and evaluating their quality. Different government bodies take the lead in provision of these services, thus assessing capabilities has to take a whole of government view on where preparedness is advanced or in need of reinforcement.
Contact: For more information on the High Level Risk Forum, please contact Jack Radisch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Find all the presentations here.