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New study shows little prospect of reducing disaster losses

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Apr 2015

Preliminary results of a catastrophe modelling study presented at the recent Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, showed little prospect of reducing economic losses from present level of US$240 billion per year. 
The study, which was commissioned by the United Nations office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and led by catastrophe modelling firm AIR Worldwide, examined the trend of growing economic losses from global natural catastrophes by looking at 30 years of historical events and then normalising the losses based on current conditions including changes in population, wealth, and urbanisation of catastrophe prone areas.
Dr Milan Simic, Senior Vice President of AIR Worldwide, said the study normalised the economic losses from major natural disasters over the last 20 years and found that they oscillated around a baseline value of $240 billion. This is close to the $250 billion to $300 billion estimate of current annual levels of natural and man-made disaster losses presented in UNISDR’s 2015 Global Assessment Report for Disaster Risk Reduction. 
“What the study tells us that it is next to impossible to reduce existing levels of economic losses but that they provide a baseline and a context for improving on key areas of development over the lifetime of the new framework for disaster risk reduction which hopefully will be adopted tomorrow,” he added.
Mr Jerry Velasquez, UNISDR’s Chief of Advocacy and Outreach, said: “This study tells us that the way we do development is the reason why economic losses are so high. Development drivers are stronger drivers of the increase of risks than hazards themselves. In order to limit economic losses in the future, we need to improve urban planning and make economic growth resilient.”
The full global study will be available in July and will provide a breakdown of economic losses by region.
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