Climate change driving huge surge in natural disasters, United Nations finds

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 14, 2020

The U.N. chief's message was reiterated by Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, who called for unified efforts to ensure disaster risk reduction.

Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has "laid bare many shortcomings in disaster risk management (despite) repeated warnings", the UNDRR report recommended urgent action from Governments to better manage such overlapping disasters.

Looking at the mass casualty disaster events which have occurred in the last 20 years, the death tolls in many cases could have been significantly reduced if there had been greater focus on disaster risk governance. This is a dramatic increase on the 1980-1999 period, in which 4,212 disaster events were recorded, claiming approximately 1.19 million lives and affecting 3.25 billion people.

Calling upon people at all levels and sectors to engage in works of facing up to the natural disasters, PM Oli expressed the commitment to working together with national and worldwide organisations for disaster risk reduction and facing the disasters. Disastrous flooding events more than doubled, from 1,389 to 3,254.

The data showed that Asia has suffered the highest number of disasters in the past 20 years with 3,068 such events, followed by the Americas with 1,756 and Africa with 1,192.

The report by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) released in Geneva on October 13 to coincide with the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction confirms how extreme weather events dominated the disaster landscape in the 21st century.

Since 2000, major floods have more than doubled, while major storms increased by almost 50%.

Geo-physical events such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes have killed more people than any of the other natural hazards reviewed, the report said.

The same procrastination is at work when it comes to concerted action on climate change and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to levels required to keep global temperature rise at 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels.

The world is now well on its way to a 3.2-degree Celsius temperature increase, CNN reported, absent a drastic cut in greenhouse gas emissions that doesn't seem forthcoming.

"Mizutori said that "[we] are fighting an uphill battle against an ever-rising tide of extreme weather events" and that "the odds are being stacked against us when we fail to act on science and early warnings to invest in prevention, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction".

Even the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency, according to her, are indicators "that we need [a] clear vision, plans, and competent, empowered institutions acting on scientific evidence for public good".

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