Climate risk management in strategic planning: Are international organizations fit for purpose?

Are international organizations fit for purpose?

Research event Invitation only
17 March 2021 — 2:30PM TO 4:00PM

Roughly two dozen international organizations, mostly in the United Nations family, foster cooperation and set the global agenda on a range of critical issues, including health, water, energy, environment, food, migration, security and development.

The majority of these organizations were created between the end of the Second World War and the 1970s, before the impacts of anthropogenic climate change were widely understood. Climate change’s direct risks (floods, droughts, storms), indirect risks (hunger, increased mortality, fragile livelihoods) and systemic risks (instability, mass migration) could have profound implications for the ability of international organizations to operate effectively: increasing demand for services, undermining the effectiveness of programmes, and impacting staff safety and security.

Another multi-faceted threat, the COVID-19 pandemic, has provided a full systems ‘stress-test’ of how the international system deals with risk, and the results are not particularly encouraging. By analogy it begs the question of whether the institutions that have played such a crucial role in international cooperation over the past 70 years are still fit for purpose in a warming world.

The UN as a whole recognized the importance of good risk management more than fifteen years ago. Over the past decade, several international organizations have introduced enterprise risk management (ERM) systems in their operations. But progress on implementation is patchy and the risks associated with climate change rarely figure in these ERM systems, perhaps because it is not a ‘point source’ risk like the corruption, terrorist or funding threats that typically concern risk management professionals.

Where international organizations do consider climate risks they tend to focus on project-level risks rather than risks at an enterprise (strategic) level or how impacts cascade across sectors. How international organizations manage climate risk will prove to be critical to their ability to meet their objectives, deliver their mandate, improve the delivery of services, achieve value for money and avoid unwelcome surprises.

This session will discuss how climate risks are seen by international organizations, what innovative approaches to risk management are emerging and what else might need to be done.

This event is organized by Chatham House, E3G, and the UN Strategic Planning Network.

If you would like to attend, please contact Chris Aylett.


Moderator: Nick Mabey, Chief Executive, E3G

Presenter: Oli Brown, Associate Fellow, Chatham House

Respondents to be confirmed 

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