The full spectrum of risk in urban centres: changing perceptions, changing priorities

How can the scale and relative importance of all risks – from everyday hazards to small and large disasters – be assessed and then acted on? This brief describes the spectrum of risks in urban areas and highlights those that are poorly documented and whose impacts are underestimated. It also highlights measures that can be taken to address this.

Cities can be among the world’s most healthy places – if all their residents have access to risk-reducing infrastructure and services that are affordable and of good quality. These include piped water, sanitation, drainage, household waste collection, electricity, health care and emergency services. Where these are not provided, cities concentrate so many risks. But the huge scale of premature death, illness, injury and impoverishment that these risks contribute to remains hidden because these are not recorded and not even seen as outcomes of risk by many.