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UNISDR: 2009 Global assessment report on disaster risk reduction: risk and poverty in a changing climate

The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR) released the first biennial Global assessment report on disaster risk reduction since the launch of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) in 2000. This report, entitled Risk and poverty in a changing climate, stresses that disaster risk reduction can contribute to poverty reduction, development, and climate change adaptation; and consequently to global stability and sustainability.

It finds that disaster risk is disproportionately concentrated in developing countries, which have more vulnerable economies, often weak governance structures and high poverty levels. Therefore developing countries, including many small island developing states (SIDS) and land-locked developing countries (LLDCs) “suffer far higher levels of mortality and relative economic loss than developed countries when disasters occur. Weather-related hazards, poorly managed urban growth and territorial occupation, environmental mismanagement, declining ecosystems and climate change are identified in the report as driving factors for disaster risk. They disproportionally affect the poor, who are “less able to absorb loss and recover, and are more likely to experience both short- and long-term deteriorations in income, consumption and welfare,” the report notes.

Risk and poverty in a changing climate urges a paradigm shift in disaster risk reduction, as currently “efforts to reduce disaster risk, reduce poverty and adapt to climate change are poorly coordinated” and hardly linked to each other. The report underlines the need to link and focus the policy and governance frameworks for disaster risk reduction, poverty reduction and climate change adaptation in a way that can bring best practice local and sectoral approaches and tools into mainstream development thinking on disaster risk reducation. For this to occur, more international attention and consolidated political and economic support and commitment for disaster risk reduction are identified as necessary in the report.

The report concludes with various recommendations, among which a 20-point action plan to reduce risks in the future. This action plan calls for accelerated efforts to avoid dangerous climate change; increase the economic resilience of small and vulnerable economies; adopt high-level development policy frameworks to reduce risk; focus development policy on addressing the underlying risk drivers; adopt an approach supportive of local initiatives; invest to reduce risk; and to build on existing systems for public administration to incorporate innovations into the governance of disaster risk reduction.

Risk and poverty in a changing climate has been prepared and coordinated by UNISDR in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Meteorlogical Organization (WMO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the ProVention Consortium, regional intergovernmental and technical institutions, national governments, civil society networks, academic institutions and many other ISDR system partners.

The report is available online.