How prepared is the global community for natural disasters? The World Bank says not enough.
With climate change-linked disasters on the rise, the World Bank says that without preventive action, 1.3 billion people and $158 trillion in assets are at risk by 2050. This is according to a report released by Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the bank-run body that focuses on disaster mitigation.
GFDRR reported that total damages from natural disaster have surged in recent decades. Total annual damage – averaged over a 10-year period – had risen tenfold from $14bn in 1976-1985 to $140bn in 20015-2014. The average number of people affected has also risen from about 60 million to more than 170 million over the same period.
The worse may be yet to come, however, as a result of global warming, population growth, increased socioeconomic activity, and land-use change, warned World Bank.
“With climate change and rising numbers of people in urban areas rapidly driving up future risks, there’s a real danger the world is woefully unprepared for what lies ahead,” said John Roome, World Bank Group’s senior director for climate change, told The Guardian.
Said in the GFDRR report: “Many of the largest cities are located in deltas and are highly prone to floods and other hazards, and as these cities grow, an ever greater number of people and more assets are at risk of disaster.”
To prepare for rising climate change-linked disasters, the World Bank urges the global community to prepare through better city planning and other defensive measures, reported The Guardian
“Unless we change our approach to future planning for cities and coastal areas that takes into account potential disasters, we run the real risk of locking in decisions that will lead to drastic increases in future losses,” said Roome.
The World Bank and GFDRR have also stressed how our decisions shape future disaster risk – how, according to GFDRR head Francis Ghesquiere, “we must continually learn, innovate, and push boundaries, so that we can build a safer world for ourselves and the generations to come.”
Ghesquiere said: “By promoting policies that reduce risk and avoiding maladaptive actions that increase risk, we can positively influence the risk environment of the future. The drivers of future risk are within the control of decision makers today.”