Weak defences against flooding and cyber-attacks, alongside poor AI readiness, represent the greatest threats to London, according to a new report from Tokio Marine Group and Economist Impact.
According to the report, cities across the world lack the infrastructure and robust environmental policies needed to combat the worsening impacts of climate change.
Examining critical facets of urban life, the Resilient Cities Index 2023 delves into 25 global cities’ ability to evade, withstand, and recover from a spectrum of shocks and long-term stresses. Rapid urbanisation is making this threat more urgent, it suggests.
However, while London is one of the most resilient cities in the world, the capital is disproportionately exposed to flood and cybersecurity risks, the study found.
The index indicates that London could become increasingly exposed to riverine flood risk as the climate crisis intensifies. The city is considered to have low-medium risk. The damage wrought by flooding directly affects assets and lives. It can also pose longer-term public health risks, as stagnant waters play host to waterborne diseases.
However, cities across the world – including London – are employing a variety of nature-based solutions to adapt to flooding, including blue and green infrastructure as well as robust, physical flood defences.
London’s lack of cybersecurity and AI preparedness is also a growing concern, fuelled by weak coordination and capacity gaps. London ranked 11th out of 25 cities for its Digital Infrastructure. These factors, paired with weak internet quality in London, are key areas which may threaten the city’s ability to attract talent and capital, as well as to support existing businesses and livelihoods. It will also impede London’s ability to grow its economy.
However, London ranked positively for transportation and emergency response time and incentivising innovation to foster greater business growth. London was one of only six cities listed in the index which have emergency services which can respond in under ten minutes, with others including Dubai, Istanbul, Los Angeles, Munich and Tokyo.
Brad Irick, executive officer of Tokio Marine Group and CEO of Tokio Marine Kiln, said: “The world is facing unprecedented challenges. Extreme weather events, from hurricanes and wildfires to flooding and heatwaves, are becoming more frequent and their effects more devastating. Our cities are exposed to all these risks and more. Lives and livelihoods depend on our ability to understand and mitigate the evolving threats to our urban centres. Emerging risks created by our dependence on technology and changing demographics are broadening the threats that must be managed.”
“Our research shows that London is clearly on the right path to resilience, but more is to be done if the UK’s capital is able to adapt to the demands that rapidly changing cybersecurity and artificial intelligence developments bring. Insurance can and should facilitate innovation. It has a responsibility to support the technological leaps forward that will be essential to mitigate the greatest challenges which society faces. We believe this index will help to advance thinking on the topic of resilience while facilitating a constructive dialogue on what we can do to create a better tomorrow for all.”