People in the Asia-Pacific region are four times more likely to be affected by natural disasters than those in Africa and 25 times more likely than those in Europe or North America, says a UN report released at the Fourth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR).
The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2010, the first of its kind, was launched at the AMCDRR by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). According to the report, while the region generated one quarter of the world’s GDP, it accounted for a staggering 85 per cent of deaths and 38 per cent of global economic losses due to natural disasters over the last three decades.
The report considers the socio-economic impact of disasters, and suggests ways of reducing vulnerability to disasters to protect hard-won development gains. It emphasizes that disaster losses are linked to and exacerbated by poverty, and that the vulnerability of the poor stems from multifaceted socio-economic and environmental imbalances.
“Unless these imbalances are addressed, people who are constantly exposed to disaster risk are more likely to remain poor and more vulnerable to disasters, perpetuating a vicious cycle from which it is extremely difficult to break free”, said Dr Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of ESCAP in a joint statement with Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The Fourth AMCDRR is organized by the National Emergency Management Agency of the Government of the Republic of Korea in partnership with UNISDR, the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and the Incheon Metropolitan City.