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The Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management
All over the world people are at risk from natural hazards, such as earthquakes, severe storms, floods or droughts. About 200 million people are affected by disasters every year. Although extreme natural events now claim fewer lives, economic losses have risen significantly.
More and more people settle in densely populated and disaster prone areas, and also the risk of damage to public and private infrastructure and assets is increasing with their growing concentration in exposed regions. Disaster risks are often not considered in the continuing rapid development of urban areas and economic zones. The consequences for the sustainability of public and private investments can be disastrous.
In its Global Assessment Report 2015 (GAR15), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has found that worldwide economic losses due to disasters have risen to about 250 to 300 billion US dollars annually. Developing and emerging countries, but also industrial nations are increasingly affected by natural hazards and changing climate patterns. In addition to catastrophic disasters, widespread risk to repeated or persistent hazard conditions of low or moderate intensity (extensive risks) can lead to cumulative disaster impacts. Globally interconnected economic cycles implicate that also events of a highly localised nature can have effects on markets and businesses in other regions. The impact of such an event on Critical Infrastructure such as energy and transport systems can cause supply shortfalls in urban areas and economic zones.
However, disaster risks can be influenced effectively by various means. The GAR15 estimates that an investment of 6 billion US dollars annually in disaster risk management would result in avoided losses of 360 billion US dollars over the next 15 years.
Effective disaster risk management requires not only financial investments, but also new partnerships between governments, civil society, academia and the private sector to respond to the challenges ahead.