The economic cost of natural disasters in Australia is forecast to exceed A$39 billion (US$29.5 billion) a year by the middle of this century, says a report from the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities.
The report, Building Resilience to Natural Disasters in our States and Territories, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, found the total economic cost of natural disasters in Australia over the 10 years to 2016 averaged A$18.2 billion per year, equivalent to 1.2% of average GDP.
“These costs include significant, and often long-term, social impacts, including death and injury, and impacts on employment, education, community networks, health and wellbeing,’’ the report said.
“More than nine million Australians have been impacted by a natural disaster or extreme weather event in the past 30 years. The number of people affected annually is expected to grow as the intensity and, in some areas, the frequency of events increases.’’
The report outlines that each state and territory faces different natural hazards which impact the total cost of natural disasters in their jurisdiction, as well as which tools will best build and foster resilience. For instance, over the past decade, Queensland has borne the brunt of natural disaster costs in Australia, with natural disaster events in the state comprising 60% of the nation’s total costs. As such, the report makes recommendations on how states can use their existing areas of responsibility to address the current barriers to building resilience.
The Roundtable believes that collaboration is important in addressing the national challenge of the increasing costs of natural disasters, across all levels of government, as well as with the private sector, not-for-profits and communities.