UN Projects Rapid Rise of Wildfire Risk

Morgan O'Rourke


April 1, 2022

According to a report by the United Nations Environment Program and nonprofit environmental communications group GRID-Arendal, the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires around the world is expected to increase by up to 14% by 2030, 30% by 2050 and 50% by 2100. As a result of climate change, land-use change and poor land and forest management, wildfires are burning longer and hotter, and are occurring in unexpected areas like drying peatland and thawing permafrost. Experts even predict that the Arctic will experience a significant fire by the end of the century.

Although wildfires cannot be completely eliminated, the report recommends that communities adopt data and science-based monitoring systems, take better advantage of indigenous and traditional fire management knowledge, and foster stronger regional and international cooperation on fires. Governments also need to shift their wildfire spending from the current focus on reaction and response toward planning, prevention and preparedness. 

Morgan O’Rourke is editor in chief of Risk Management and director of publications for the Risk & Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS)