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What wildfires across the globe can teach us about resilience

December 9, 2019

Monthly webinar series illustrates the commonality of wildfire risk in Canada, California and Tasmania and shares lessons learned

Zurich Insurance has collaborated with the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International (ISET-International) DuPont and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) to study how wildfire hazards have turned into community disasters in the Canadian province of Alberta; the state of California in the United States; and the Australian state of Tasmania.

Leaders from all four organizations recently connected for a Friday Forum webinar, hosted by ICLR, to discuss the findings of research of wildfires in each region.

The research was conducted using a Zurich-developed methodology called the Post-Event Review Capability (PERC), which analyzes major natural hazard events to identify lessons learned and suggest actionable improvements. PERC is a methodology for understanding why a hazard becomes a disaster, and then from that, identifying entry points for building resilience.

After focusing on flood events for 14 PERCs, Zurich worked with ICLR this year to release a report on the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires in Canada. In January 2020, Zurich, working with DuPont and ISET International, will release the findings of its 16th post-event review on the 2017 and 2018 California fires. A report on the Southwest Complex fire of 2018-2019 in Tasmania is forthcoming.

What are the common threads that tie these events together? What are the lessons we’ve learned from different communities around the globe, and how do we apply them to create more resilient communities? This Friday Forum shares details from the three reports and recommendations that can be applied to communities exposed to wildfire hazards.

Webinar presenters are: Paul Kovacs, executive director of ICLR; Michael Szönyi, leader of Zurich's award-winning Flood Resilience Program; Dr. Rachel Norton, a research associate with ISET International; and Dr. Adriana Keating, a research scholar with the Risk and Resilience (RISK) Program at IIASA and a research officer with the Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University in Melbourne, Victoria.

If you missed the webinar, you can view it online at