International Disaster Database: 61.7 Million Impacted by Disasters in 2018
UN Photo/Logan Abassi
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According to findings from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters Emergency Events Database, in 2018, disasters affected every part of the world.

UNISDR underscored the importance of improving disaster risk management to adapt to climate change and reduce disaster losses.

The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters Head, Debarati Guha-Sapir, highlighted the urgent need for improved data, “especially in order to report on specific SDG target indicators”.

24 January 2019: The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) highlighted findings from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) concluding that extreme weather events accounted for the majority of the 61.7 million people affected by disasters in 2018. UNISDR underscored the importance of continuing to improve disaster risk management (DRM) to adapt to climate change and reduce disaster losses.

Under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), UN member States committed to reducing disaster losses and implementing the global plan for reducing disaster losses. The Framework focuses on reducing mortality and the numbers of disaster affected people as well as reducing damage to critical infrastructure and associated economic losses. A number of SDG targets also focus on reducing the impact of disasters, including SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), which includes target 11.B on encouraging integrated policies to achieve resilience to disasters and promote holistic DRM at all levels, in line with the Sendai Framework, and SDG 13 (climate action), which includes target 13.1 on strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters.

The world must be equally active about climate change adaptation.

In 2018, seismic activity, including earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity claimed more lives than any other hazard type, and disrupted the lives of 3.4 million people in 2018. Floods affected the largest number of people, with 35.4 million affected, including 23 million people in Kerala, India. Storms, including hurricanes, are expected to be the costliest type of disaster in 2018. Wildfires in Greece and the US were the deadliest on record and in over a century, respectively.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for DRR, Mami Mizutori, observed that “time is running out” for liming global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C, stressing that the world must be “equally active about climate change adaptation.” She emphasized the need to safeguard protective ecosystems, take active measures to reduce exposure to rising sea levels, reduce disaster risk in cities, avoid the creation of new risk through stronger planning regulations and better land use and building codes, and reduce poverty.

Another challenge identified by CRED is poor reporting of disaster impacts. CRED Head, Debarati Guha-Sapir, explained that the impact of all disasters, particularly drought and extreme temperatures, “are notoriously poorly reported, especially from low-income countries.” Guha-Sapir underscored the urgent need for improved data, “especially in order to report on specific SDG target indicators.” She called for measuring progress in resilience and adaptive capacity of communities.

EM-DAT aims to provide an objective base for vulnerability assessment and priority setting and to rationalize decision making for disaster preparedness. The database contains core data on the occurrence and effects of more than 22,000 mass disasters globally from 1900 to the present day. [UNISDR Press Release] [UN News Story] [EM-DAT]

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