The United Nations University has released new guidance on developing impacts webs, a methodology for improving the understanding and characterising complex risks. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction emphasises the importance of advancing understanding of complex risk reduction and management for compounding, cascading and systemic effects.

The document explains the significance and procedure of Impact Webs, which are a valuable tool for comprehending complex risks by analysing interactions within the respective and interconnected systems. Impact Webs combine risk analysis and systems-based approaches with the guidance aimed at those undertaking data-driven risk assessment and identification of risk management options.

Publication coincides with a Policy Brief published by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on programming systemic risk management, which presents a set of tenets for operationalising systemic risk management to reduce replication of risks, trade-offs and maladaptation risks. Whilst the policy brief is primarily intended for the humanitarian sector, it applies equally to the UK emergency management, preparedness and resilience context. Including such tools as double-loop learning, systemic risk diagnosis, and systems-based approaches to forensic analysis through mapping new multi-hazard approaches to systemic risk management are introduced alongside improved governance, adaptive management and decision-making.

The policy brief explains that a systemic risk management approach is necessary to enhance complex programs and anticipate trends, challenges, and emerging risks for different geographical and time horizons. Conventional methods, which tend to concentrate on individual hazards relevant to specific populations, time horizons, and geographic scales, may unintentionally intensify vulnerabilities and risks in other sectoral and geographical areas, thereby reducing the effectiveness of interventions.

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