Whether it be an earthquake or a tsunami, a cyclone or floods, the risk of a natural event turning into a disaster always depends only partly on the force of the natural event itself. The living conditions of the people in the regions affected and the options available to respond quickly and toprovide assistance are just as significant.

Those who are prepared, who know what to do in the event of an extreme natural event, have a greater chance of survival. Countries that see natural hazards coming, that are preparing for the consequences of climate change and are providing the financial means required will be better prepared for the future. The WorldRiskReport should contribute to look at these links at a global level and draw future-oriented conclusions regarding assistance measures, policies and reporting.

As an essential part of the WorldRiskReport, the WorldRiskIndex, created by United Nations Universitys Institute for Environment and Human Security, indicates the risk of disaster in consequence of exreme natural events for 171 countrys.

Humanitarian logistics and infrastructure

Main topic WorldRiskReport 2016

Dilapidated transport routes, unsafe power grids, buildings in a state of disrepair: During extreme natural events, a fragile infrastructure can have grave consequences for the local population, for whom it represents a direct threat. In addition, it delays the effective potential for those affected to help themselves and impedes humanitarian relief provided by the local authorities or from abroad. Usually, the difficulties that relief agencies face are on the “last mile” of the logistics chain: Organizing transportation despite ruined roads or bridges, and ensuring fair distribution when, for example, there is a scarcity of water, food and shelter.
This is where information technology like the Internet or mobile phones as well as more recent technology such as drones or 3D printers, can support humanitarian logistics – that is, if they have not been impaired by a collapsed local power supply. But technology-based solutions aside, there still remains a host of challenges: examples include supporting self-help measures, coordinating the involved actors, making use of local resources, and the controversial issue of cooperations with the private sector and armed forces.

Experts at topics of humanitarian logistics and infrastructure

Humanitarian logistics to the “last mile”

Graphic in 3 steps

Topic overview 2011-2015

Food security and risk evaluation

By the year 2030 there will be no hunger anymore. For the 795 billion people around the world, which 2015 were massively malnourished, is this promise a bright look. The heads of state and government of over 150 countries determined the following: “Zero Hunger” is one of the 17 aims, that were passed by UN Summit on Sustainability in New York. In a world without hunger would be less disasters. Since food security and disaster risk influence each other mutual considerably, what is shown in the WorldRiskIndex 2015 with the main topic “food security”.

The city as a risk area

Whether extreme natural events will pose a threat to populations does not depend solely on their intensity. The vulnerability of a society affected by the impact of such an extreme event also plays a crucial role. The WorldRiskIndex calculates the risk of becoming the victim of a disaster resulting from an extreme natural event, i.e. by multiplying the vulnerability index by the exposure index. Given this year’s thematic focus “The city as a risk area”, for the fi rst time, risk has also been assessed for urban areas. But regardless of whether urban or rural areas, development definitely helps mitigating the risk of disasters.

Health and Healthcare

Whether it be drought, cyclone, earthquake or floods, when an extreme natural event hits a village or a town, the extent of harm to people crucially depends on what the population’s health status has been prior to the event — and on how well healthcare also works in crisis and disaster situations. In a nutshell, “health and healthcare” are decisive factors in risk assessment. The WorldRiskReport 2013 focuses on this theme.

Environmental degradation and disasters

When the full force of nature hits human settlements, this can have disastrous results: The lives of countless people are threatened, and through the destruction of buildings and infrastructure, progress made over years of development is destroyed in many countries. However, it is not alone the strength of a natural event that determines the extent of harm and damages. The risk a country runs of becoming a victim depends crucially on social, economic and institutional factors – in a nutshell, the condition of society within that country. The WorldRiskReport 2012 has devoted its focus to a significant driver of disasters: the worldwide increase in environmental degradation.

Governance and civil society

People are inevitably captivated by disasters. Television, on-line media, social networks and newspapers report immediately from affected areas. In just the first three months of 2011, the earthquake in New Zealand, the flood in Australia, and in particular, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan provided shocking images. Extreme natural events such as the tsunami on Boxing Day 2004 as well as the earthquake in Haiti and the flood in Pakistan both in 2010 have had catastrophic effects on the affected regions. The frequency and intensity of such extreme events have increased alarmingly in recent years. But did the disaster risk also increase?




Nature cannot be controlled. Humans can only influence to a limited degree whether, and with what intensity, natural events are to occur. But they can take precautions to help prevent a natural event from becoming a disaster. It is this vulnerability of a society that forms the basis for the WorldRiskIndex, which calculates the disaster risk for 171 countries by multiplying vulnerability with exposure to natural hazards (cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, floods, and sea-level rise).
The WorldRiskIndex 2016 shows that the global hotspots for a high disaster risk lie in Oceania, Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Southern Sahel. Thus countries like the Solomon Islands (ranked 6th), Papua-New Guinea (ranked 10th), and Guinea-Bissau (ranked 15th) are all very strongly exposed to natural hazards and, owing to their poor economic and social situations, particularly vulnerable. The example of Australia demonstrates how a low level of vulnerability can lower disaster risk. The country mitigates its exposure, which is mainly to drought, earthquakes and sea-level rise, and thus attains a ranking of 121st from 171 in the WorldRiskIndex. However, the example of Japan shows that a low level of vulnerability cannot fully compensate for extreme exposure. Despite its very low vulnerability, the country is in place 17 in the WorldRiskIndex because of its very high exposure, mainly to earthquakes and floods. In countries like Liberia (ranked 56th), Zambia (ranked 66th) and the Central African Republic (ranked 71st), the situation is the reverse of that in Japan. They are rather weakly exposed to natural hazards but very vulnerable. A total 13 of the 15 countries with the highest vulnerability are situated on the African continent. For these countries in particular, it is true that development helps.

Worldmap of Risk


  • very low
    0,08 - 3,46
  • low
    3,47 - 5,46
  • middle
    5,47 - 7,30
  • high
    7,31 - 10,39
  • very high
    10,40 - 36,72
  • no data

Calculation of Risk



Reports as PDF

  • WorldRiskReport2016
  • WorldRiskReport_2015-prev
  • WorldRiskReport_2014-prev
  • WorldRiskReport_2013-prev
  • WorldRiskReport_2012-prev
  • WorldRiskReport_2011-prev

Graphics and illustrations

WorldRiskIndex 2016

  • Humanitarian logistic to the last mile
  • Logistic and infrastructure
  • WorlRiskIndex 2016


  • 2015-Emergency-ration-South-Sudan
  • 2015-Food-Insecurity-in-Exposed-Countries
  • 2015-How-Disasters-Amplify-Hunger
  • 2015-Securing-Food-Supplies---Preventing-Disasters
  • 2015-Share-Of-Undernourished-Worldwide
  • 2014-City-Growht-Worldwide
  • 2014-Distribution-of-World-Population
  • 2014-Total-Number-of-Inhabitants-in-Cities
  • 2014-Urban-Population-Growth-Until-2050
  • 2013-Hygiene-and-Child-Mortality
  • 2013-Money-and-Health
  • 2012-Reefs-at-Risk---People-at-Risk
  • 2012-Natural-Coastal-Protection