It is just over three years since United Nations Member States adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the global plan to reduce disaster losses, which is pivotal to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It focuses primarily on prevention, aiming to recognize and nullify disaster risks before they trigger events that lead to the loss of life, homes and livelihoods, as well as damage to health facilities, schools, public utilities and other important communal assets.
Reducing disaster risk is a cross-cutting issue for all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 1, on the eradication of poverty in all its forms everywhere. Disasters are a major contributor to entrenched poverty in low- and middle-income countries attempting to recover from extreme weather events amplified by the effects of climate change. Disasters can set back development gains made over decades of hard work.
The World Bank estimates that disasters cost the global economy $520 billion annually, while pushing 26 million people into poverty.
Since the Sendai Framework was adopted, some 60 million people in over 100 countries have been displaced by disaster events, mainly floods, storms and droughts. These adverse events often take place in environments exposed to natural and man-made hazards, poverty, lack of protective ecosystems, and weak institutional capacity to prepare for and respond to them. Population growth, economic development, and rapid and often risk-blind urbanization place more people in harm's way than ever before in earthquake zones, flood plains, coastlines, dry lands and other high-risk areas, increasing the possibility that a natural hazard turns into a humanitarian catastrophe. More people are affected by extreme weather events than any other type of natural hazards, be they floods, storms or drought, which are responsible for 95 per cent of disaster-affected populations.
While early warning systems and timely evacuations have led to reduced loss of life, economic losses continue to grow, impeding a number of nations' graduation from least developed country (LDC) status to middle income status.
Many of those countries that suffer the most from economic losses are small island developing States. Vanuatu, which was devastated by Cyclone Pam in 2015 as the Sendai Framework was being adopted, will not graduate from LDC status until 2020 due to the storm's lasting impact on its economy. It is...