ESCAP Warns of Disaster Risk Outpacing Resilience in Asia-Pacific
Photo by IISD/ENB | Sean Wu
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The report warns that 40% of global economic losses from disasters will be in the Asia-Pacific region between 2015 and 2030.

It calls for: disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures to consider climate change-related risks; DRR interventions to form part of a broader approach to conflict prevention and peace building; and national development strategies to integrate disaster resilience.

10 October 2017: Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity in the Asia-Pacific region, while disaster risk is outpacing disaster resilience, according to a report published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The region, the most disaster-prone in the world, has seen typhoons and monsoons affect upwards of 41 million people with the greatest impacts in countries with the least capacity to prepare or respond. Titled ‘Disaster Resilience for Sustainable Development: Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2017,’ the publication aims to help policymakers better understand disaster risk and resilience so that they can undertake the most appropriate actions.

According to the report, natural disasters in the region led to two million deaths and US$1.3 trillion in economic losses between 1970 and 2016. Between 2000 and 2015, low- and lower middle-income countries had almost 15 times more disaster-related deaths than the region’s higher-income countries. The report warns that 40% of global economic losses from disasters will be in the Asia-Pacific region between 2015 and 2030. Small island developing States (SIDS), followed by the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), will experience the greatest losses as a proportion of their gross domestic product (GDP), at an estimated 4% and 2.5%, respectively.

Speaking during the report’s launch, ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar called for urgent action on early warning systems, and more innovative sources of disaster risk financing to reduce existing resilience gaps.

In recommending action points to build resilience at national and regional levels and calling for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) implementation plans to be risk informed, the report helps advance SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and 13 (climate action), as well as 3 (good health and well-being), 4 (quality education), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 10 (reduced inequalities), 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnership for the Goals).

The report also examines: the relationship among disasters, poverty and inequality; intersections between disaster impacts and violent conflict; and scientific and technical advances in forecasting. It calls for: disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures to consider climate change-related risks; DRR interventions to form part of a broader approach to conflict prevention and peace building; and national development strategies to integrate disaster resilience.

Speaking during the report’s launch, ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar called for urgent action on early warning systems, and more innovative sources of disaster risk financing to reduce existing resilience gaps. Lamenting the lack of an “institutionalized insurance culture” and adequate post-disaster financing, she said ESCAP will prioritize improving collaboration on disaster risk financing in the region.

The report was launched on 10 October 2017, during the first-ever ESCAP Disaster Resilience week, which convened from 9-12 October in Bangkok, Thailand. The launch took place during the opening of the ESCAP Committee on DRR, a platform for regional dialogue and intergovernmental collaboration on DRR. The Committee discussed regional resilience in the context of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Sendai Framework for DRR. [ESCAP News Story] [ESCAP Disaster Resilience Week Website] [Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2017] [Publication Landing Page]


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