Disaster and Climate Change Risk Assessment Methodology for Projects of the Inter-American Development Bank

What are we talking about?

The Disaster and Climate Change Risk Assessment Methodology has been developed and piloted by the Inter-American Development Bank ( IDB) during 2017 and 2018. The Methodology is mainly the result of the work done by specialists of the Climate Change and Sustainability Division, the Environment, Rural Development and Disaster Risk Management Division and the Environmental and Social Safeguards Unit.

The methodology of Disaster and Climate Change Risk Assessment (DRA) refers to the evaluation of the disaster and climate change risks for a particular project. It is a “qualitative or quantitative approach to determine the nature and extent of the disaster risk by analyzing potential hazards and evaluating existing conditions of exposure and vulnerability that together could harm people, property, services, livelihood and the environment”.

Why is it relevant?

The impacts of disaster and climate change risks are growing concerns as they reduce the predictability of future infrastructure needs and increase the vulnerability of populations and assets. As part of sustainable planning, development projects should consider current and future risk and resilience opportunities in the design, construction, and operation phases.


  • 2007: The Bank incorporated disaster risk (including hazards emanating from climate variations) within the project cycle as part of the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Policy (OP-704) – Directive A2 – Risk and Project Viability, to provide guidance to project teams in Bank-financed public and private sector projects;
  • 2016: A Community of Practice on Resilience (CPR) was establishedby the IDB which aims at mainstreaming resilience across sectors and projects within the IDB;

Why is there a need for a new methodology?

Although the Disaster Risk Policy has been in place for some time, it has been inconsistently applied across operations. Besides, it was characterized by a lack of available data and methodological processes and standards as well as biased risk classifications towards hazard instead of a more integrated understanding of risk. The Methodology thus takes into account significant advances in the analysis of disaster and climate change risk in the last ten years.

  • 2017: The Disaster and Climate Change Risk Assessment Methodology was jointly crafted and fine-tuned through pilot projects during 2018.

Scope of application

  • The Methodology is intended as a practical resource that team leaders across sectors, executing agencies, technical experts, and external consulting and design firms can use to integrate disaster and climate change risk considerations at the project preparation and implementation phases.
  • The Methodology has been conceived and designed mostly for medium to large projects. It is a living document that will continue to be updated as new data and methods emerge in disaster and climate change risk management.


  1. Preliminary classification of the project based on location and hazards: This toolkit is used by IDB specialists to identify whether a project triggers the Disaster Risk Management Policy (OP-704) by considering the potential hazards that might affect the project (seismic, tsunami, volcano etc.). The outcome is an initial risk classification for the operation.
  2. Reflect upon the project’s own criticality and vulnerability levels: Vulnerability refers to the inherent qualities that determine a structure’s susceptibility to suffer damage. Criticality refers to the degree of significance that a structure holds within a larger context due to the type and scale of services or functionality it provides. Both concepts lead to a better understanding of the potential consequences that a failure of the operation due to natural hazards would create. As a result of this phase projects are classified as low, moderate or high-risk.
  3. Applies to all moderate and high-risk projects and involves gathering all valuable data regarding studies, documents and design considerations that may already exist for the operation: The aim is to document how and to what extent thought has been given to disaster and climate change risk management issues.
  4. Performing a complete qualitative risk assessment and an accompanying disaster risk management plan for all high and moderate risk projects (can be done through workshops with different experts).
  5. Performing a quantitative risk assessment and accompanying disaster and climate change risk management plan (DRMP) for the high or moderate risk operations: This involves quantitatively modeling the aspects that were found to require further investigation, and it entails scientifically and mathematically evaluating the vulnerability, hazard and risk for those selected aspects for both the structure itself and the surrounding environment and communities, including an estimation of the impacts that would not occur if the project did not exist.

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