Climate Change and DRR
Action that addresses the interlinked challenges of disaster risk, sustainable development and climate change is a core priority given that 90% of recorded major disasters caused by natural hazards from 1995 to 2015 were linked to climate and weather including floods, storms, heatwaves and droughts. The five countries hit by the highest number of disasters were the United States (472), China (441), India (288), Philippines (274), and Indonesia, (163).
UNISDR is focused on achieving stronger recognition of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as essential elements of climate risk management and sustainable development.
Climate Risks Early Warning Systems
UNISDR advocates for a synergy between disaster risk reduction and climate change.
UNISDR supports these efforts at the highest levels by developing specific policies at the international level on the linkages between reducing disaster risk and responding to climate change, guiding national and regional action to integrate policies and practices, and strengthening capacities to support the integration of disaster reduction and climate change by all actors.
The Mid-Term Review (2010-2011) of the Hyogo Framework for Action led to an extensive discussion of the integration of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction for reducing disaster losses, and in the broader context of poverty reduction and sustainable development. While the need for integration was well-recognized, it was found that “functional links in policy and practice remain inadequate at the local and national levels.” Fostering coherence and collaboration across global and regional mechanisms and institutions has become a key focus of UNISDR and its partners and is embedded in the HFA’s successor, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
UNISDR’s efforts ensured that the links between disaster risk management and climate change adaptation were elaborated during the decisions taken around loss and damage at the November, 2013, COP19 (Climate Change Conference of the Parties) in Warsaw, Poland. Governments adopted the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts with a focus on developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. One of its stated functions is to enhance knowledge and understanding of comprehensive risk management approaches.
On climate change, working closely with regional institutions such as SOPAC/SPC, UNISDR assisted Island states in the Pacific to develop an integrated strategy that links disaster and climate risk management with sustainable development. On climate change, working with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC/SPC), UNISDR assisted Island states in the Pacific to develop an integrated strategy that links disaster and climate risk management with sustainable development. The impetus came from countries that have adopted or are developing integrated approaches at national level (including the Cook Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu). The Pacific is the first region to move towards combining regional, national and sub-national efforts to reduce disaster and climate-related risks to sustainable national development.
Similar partnerships have been formed with the African Union Commission, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Kenya, Maldives, Afghanistan, Lao PDR, Philippines and Myanmar are among those countries supported to develop and adopt integrated Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) strategies. In addition, a number of countries have taken action to use DRR for adapting to climate change, through National Platforms on DRR. UNISDR also disseminates analysis and climate risk information through biennial Global Assessment Reports, including risk modelling based on disaster loss data to develop probabilistic estimations of future risk in vulnerable countries. In Africa, for example, national disaster loss databases were supported in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. Globally, as of December 2014, at least 39 National Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction integrate disaster and climate risk issues.
"Unless we act now, we will see more and more disasters due to unplanned urbanization and environmental degradation. And weather-related disasters are sure to rise in the future, due to factors that include climate change."
-- Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction
At the regional and country level, the European Union adopted a new strategy on adaptation to climate change that incorporates disaster risk reduction and promotes sustainable growth, climate resilient investment and job creation. The strategy was informed by UNISDR advocacy and evidence around the increasing frequency and intensity of climate related events.
Argentina, Bahrain, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Croatia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Marshall Islands, Niue, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Sweden, Tonga, and Vietnam have taken action to use DRR for adapting to climate change, in particular through their National Platforms on DRR or other formal national coordinating mechanisms on DRR. UNISDR delivered these outcomes through focused advocacy among government officials and technical experts, provision of technical support and targeted knowledge products through its portal Preventionweb, and through its convening ability to bring together experts and decision makers. Globally at least 39 National Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction integrate disaster and climate risk issues as stated in UNISDR’s 2014 Annual Report.
Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)
Encouraged by UNISDR and the Government of Norway, the Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produced a Special Report on "Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)." This was fully published in March 2012 and has been highly influential. It recommended that risk assessment needs to include analyses of how hazards are changing, human activities that drive environmental changes, the creation of new hazards, irreversible changes and the increasing probability of hazard occurrence. Furthermore, it called for risk assessments to be multidimensional and informed by socioeconomic, environmental and institutional factors. It is a major contribution to aiding policy-makers in evaluating options for reducing disaster risks related to climate change. The Special Report has been included in the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report which was launched in 2014.
The inter-agency Working Group on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction was established in 2004.
The Working Group supported by UNISDR was established to share information between the disaster risk reduction and climate change communities. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with the support of UNISDR, developed the terms of reference and the first meeting of the group was held on 6 October 2004.
During the first Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction held in June 2007, the Working Group agreed on three priority areas: gathering and sharing good practices in climate risk-reduction; providing policy guidance to UNFCCC processes on the post-2012 climate change regime; and developing methods for reducing the carbon footprint of disaster risk reduction activities.
This Working Group, co-chaired by UNDP and WMO produced the following products: