Growing disaster risks exceeding Asia-Pacific’s capacity to respond: UN

Armida Alisjahbana, the head of ESCAP

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 23 (APP):Changing patterns and worsening impacts of natural disasters in Asia and the Pacific, coupled with environmental degradation and climate change, are not only making efforts to predict such catastrophes more difficult, but are also a “sign of things to come”, the United Nations development arm in the region has warned.

Issued on Thursday by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2019 revealed that the annual economic losses due to disasters cost the region nearly $675 billion, about 2.4 per cent its gross domestic product.

In addition to the impact of disasters on human lives, the economic losses also threaten to reverse hard-won development across the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Armida Alisjahbana, the head of ESCAP, the region’s countries cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, if their people are not protected from disasters.

“This means not just building resilience in the priority zones but doing so across the entire region – reaching the most marginal and vulnerable communities,” Ms. Alisjahbana said.

Investments in disaster risk reduction and resilience building will be “far smaller than the damage and losses” from unmitigated, she added.

“Moreover, these same investments will deliver co-benefits — in the form of better education, health, social and infrastructure services, and higher agricultural production and incomes,” she added.