UN Humanity’s disturbed risk perception is reversing global progress, turning it into a ‘self-destruction spiral’

(ORDO NEWS) — The world could reverse social and economic gains and face 1.5 disasters a day by 2030, according to the UN’s flagship global assessment report.

26 April 2022, NEW YORK/GENEVA – Human activities and behavior are driving disasters around the world, endangering millions of lives and all social and economic gains, warns a new UN report.

The Global Assessment Report (GAR2022), released by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) ahead of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in May, shows that between 350 and 500 medium- and large-scale disasters have occurred annually over the past two decades. By 2030, the number of accidents is predicted to reach 560 per year – or 1.5 accidents per day.

GAR2022 blames these disasters on a distorted perception of risk based on “optimism, underestimation and invulnerability”, leading to policy, financial and development decisions that exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and put people at risk.

“The world must do more to incorporate disaster risk into the way we live, build and invest, which sets humanity on a spiral of self-destruction,” said Amina J. Mohammed, UN Under-Secretary-General, who presented the report at UN Headquarters in New York.

“We must turn our collective complacency into action. Together we can slow the pace of preventable disasters while working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for everyone, everywhere.”

The report titled “Our World at Risk: Transforming Governance for a Sustainable Future” states that the implementation of the disaster risk reduction strategies of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 has led to a reduction in the number of people affected over the past decade and those who died in disasters.

However, disasters are increasing in scale and intensity, with more people killed or affected by disasters in the last five years than in the previous five years.

Disasters disproportionately affect developing countries, which lose an average of one percent of GDP per year due to disasters, compared with 0.1-0.3 percent in developed countries. The Asia-Pacific region bears the greatest cost, with an annual average loss of 1.6 percent of GDP due to disasters, while the poorest in developing countries suffer the most.

The long-term effects of natural disasters are exacerbated by the lack of insurance to help with recovery efforts to improve the situation. Since 1980, only 40 percent of disaster losses have been insured, while insurance coverage in developing countries has often been below 10 percent, and sometimes close to zero, the report says.

“Disasters can be prevented, but only if countries invest time and resources in understanding and reducing their risks,” said Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of UNDRS.

“By deliberately ignoring risk and not taking risk into account when making decisions, the world is effectively financing its own destruction. Critical sectors, from government to development and financial services, must urgently rethink how they perceive and address disaster risk.”

A growing area of ​​risk is associated with more extreme weather events as a result of climate change. GAR2022 builds on the calls to accelerate adaptation efforts at COP26 and demonstrates how policymakers can make development and investment climate resilient.

This includes reforming national budget planning to address risk and uncertainty, and reconfiguring legal and financial systems to encourage risk reduction.

It also provides examples from which countries can learn, such as Costa Rica’s innovative carbon fuel tax in 1997, which helped reverse deforestation, a major disaster risk factor, while benefiting the economy.

GAR2022 was compiled by a group of experts from around the world as a reflection of the different areas of expertise required to understand and mitigate complex risks.

The findings of the report will feed into the Mid-Term Review of the Implementation of the Sendai Framework, which includes national consultations and reviews of how countries are meeting the goals, targets and priorities for action of the Sendai Framework.

“Now that the mid-term review of the Sendai Framework is underway, this report should send a wake-up call that countries need to accelerate action on the four priorities of the framework to stop the spiral of increasing disasters,” Mizutori said.

“The good news is that human decisions are the biggest contributor to disaster risk, so we have the opportunity to significantly reduce the threats posed to humanity, and especially to the most vulnerable among us.”

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