After considering more than 600 cities around the world, Swiss Re concludes the Tokyo-Yokohama region is the riskiest place in the world.
A report from the reinsurer ponders five perils: earthquake, storm (cyclones and winter), storm surge, tsunami and river flooding.
The study also finds that river flooding poses the greatest threat to residents of cities. Nearly 380 million people are exposed to river flooding—and another 33 are at risk of storm surge.
The urban cities included in the study, 616 in all, represent about 1.7 billion people—or about 24 percent of the world’s population. These cities also account for about 50 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.
Recent catastrophic events have exposed these urban centers as being “very vulnerable” to the studied perils, and also “poorly protected” against them, said Andreas Schraft, head catastrophe perils for Swiss Re, during a media call.
The reinsurer hopes the study will prompt global debate on the subject and decision-makers will “do something about strengthening the resiliency of urban areas,” Schraft added.
Manila in the Philippines and the Pearl River Delta in China rank second and third, respectively, in Swiss Re’s list of riskiest urban areas.
Clearly, cities on the Asia Pacific “Ring of Fire” are the most exposed to natural catastrophes. Earthquake risk is the highest risk in most of the urban areas in this region, but so is wind speed.
The cities are ranked by the number of people potentially affected.
The first sign of a U.S. city is Los Angeles, ranked ninth. The area appears on the list due almost exclusively to its exposure to earthquake. Worldwide, 283 million people are at risk of the peril.
Continuing to look exclusively at the U.S., San Francisco and New York-Newark rank second and third for riskiest metro areas.
San Francisco’s exposure to quakes ranks it high while New York is exposed to river flooding, storm surge and wind.