22 October 2020
UNDRR Report Calls for Improved Governance to Address “Systemic Risk”
UN Photo/Logan Abassi
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The report finds that 7,348 major disaster events occurred between 2000-2019, killing 1.23 million and affecting 4.2 billion people, and resulting in USD 2.97 trillion in economic losses.

It highlights the “increasingly systemic nature of disaster risk” where events overlap and interplay with other risk drivers, including poverty, climate change, population growth in hazard-exposed areas, uncontrolled urbanization, and biodiversity loss.

The report warns that inability to understand and manage systemic risk jeopardizes the achievement of the Sendai Framework and the SDGs.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) has published a report that finds extreme weather events, particularly climate-related disasters, have increased sharply over the last twenty years, resulting in more than a million deaths and nearly USD 3 trillion in economic losses.

The report titled, ‘The Human Cost of Disasters: An Overview of the Last 20 Years: 2000-2019,’ was issued on 13 October – the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). The report serves as a reminder to countries of their commitments under the Sendai Framework, to enact national and local DRR strategies by 2020, and highlights the urgency of taking action on climate change.

The report finds that 7,348 major disaster events occurred between 2000-2019, killing 1.23 million and affecting 4.2 billion people (many on more than one occasion), and resulting in USD 2.97 trillion in economic losses. This represents an increase over the previous twenty-year period, during which 4,212 natural disasters killed 1.19 million and affected 3.25 billion people and caused USD 1.63 trillion in economic losses. A significant portion of the increase was driven by a rise in climate-related disasters, like extreme weather events such as floods and storms, which nearly doubled from 3,656 to 6,681. Shifting rainfall patterns and greater precipitation variability also contribute to the increase by placing the 70% of global agriculture that is rain fed, and 1.3 billion people dependent on it, at significant risk.

Coherence between climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction is a defining issue for disaster risk governance in the 21st century.

The report recommends that countries improve disaster risk governance by strengthening vision, plans, guidelines, funding, and cross-sectoral coordination. While the report credits improvements to early warning systems and disaster preparedness and response for “a reduction in loss of life in single-hazard scenarios,” it highlights the “increasingly systemic nature of disaster risk.” Events’ overlap and interplay with other risk drivers, including poverty, climate change, population growth in hazard-exposed areas, uncontrolled urbanization, and biodiversity loss, expose the need to further strengthen disaster risk governance, the report notes. The report warns that inability to understand and manage systemic risk jeopardizes the achievement of the Sendai Framework and the SDGs.

To mark the International Day, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for DRR Mami Mizutori also held a public online conversation. The two agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote coherence between DRR and climate change adaptation in national strategies for DRR and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

Espinosa stressed the need to enhance “efforts to address climate change and help build resilience to it.” 

Mizutori called for “an integrated approach which recognizes the increasingly systemic nature of risk and how climate interacts with other drivers of risk.” “Coherence between climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction is a defining issue for disaster risk governance in the 21st century,” she said. [Publication: The Human Cost of Disasters: An Overview of the Last 20 Years: 2000-2019] [Publication Landing Page] [UNFCCC Press Release]


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