The Understanding Risk and Finance Conference (URf), held on November 17–20, 2015, at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, convened 450 disaster risk management experts and practitioners to discuss and
share knowledge on how to mitigate the socioeconomic, fiscal, financial, and physical impacts of disasters in African nations.
Organized by the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the government of Ethiopia, the World Bank,
and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)—and in collaboration with a number of
regional and international institutions—URf was part of the Building Disaster Resilience in Sub–Saharan Africa
program, which is an initiative of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States that is financed by the EU and
implemented by the AU, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the African Development Bank, and
GFDRR with the World Bank.
During the four-day event, African policymakers met with members of the private sector, the multilateral
community, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and academic institutions to discuss the myriad of risks
the continent faces, as well as to outline key lessons learned to overcome these challenges. Attendees were
encouraged to address risks holistically, as the continent is highly vulnerable to droughts, floods, climate change,
forced displacement, political instability, chronic poverty, conflicts, and pandemics. The following were among the
topics and concerns they raised:
- – The potential impacts of El Niño in the region.
- – The need for continued investment in early warning and risk identification systems and for the
sharing of knowledge across institutions.
- – The challenges associated with assessing risk in data-poor environments and communicating
- – The growing awareness across Africa of the need for effective risk financing and management
solutions to contribute to long-term resilience building.