Disasters & Accidents

‘Disasters cost 10,000 lives, $280 billion in damages last year’

Madrid, Aug 31 (EFE).- Disasters have cost around 10,000 human lives and over $280 billion in damages worldwide in the past year alone, a new United Nations report said on Wednesday.

“Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2021/2022” by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) analyzed 10 disasters from around the world.

The selected disasters represent the larger global issue and share root causes and drivers.

The UN University report looks at how the right solutions can reduce the risk of such hazards turning into full-blown disasters, or, in some cases, eliminate them.

The disasters studied included record-breaking heatwaves in British Columbia, wildfires in the Mediterranean, floods in Nigeria, and droughts in Taiwan.

“The good news is that just as the disasters are interconnected, so are the solutions,” said Jack O’Connor, Senior Scientist at UNU-EHS and lead author of the Interconnected Disaster Risks report.

“One type of solution can prevent or reduce a number of different disaster risks, and through our research we were able to identify solutions which can prevent or drastically reduce the impacts of disasters to help us save lives and avoid costly damages.”

The report demonstrates that by looking below the surface and identifying the drivers that cause disasters to develop like deforestation or urbanization, “we can decrease the risk of disasters before they occur.”

It creates ideal conditions for multiple disasters like the devastating landslides during the Haiti earthquake, the formation of sandstorms in southern Madagascar, and the sedimentation of water reservoirs contributing to the drought in Taiwan, leading to lives lost or people’s homes and income opportunities being destroyed.

The document underscores that deforestation is caused by economic interests that do not take into account the environmental consequences.

“Without investing and scaling up smart solutions, the disasters of 2021/2022 are just the beginning of a new normal,” said Zita Sebesvari, deputy director of UNU-EHS.

“The responsibility to make changes rests with all parts of society: the private sector, governments, regional and local decision-makers, but also with us as individuals,” said Sebesvari.

“All of our actions have consequences for all of us. In an interconnected world, we are all part of the solution.”

The report highlights that one type of solution can prevent or reduce the number of different disaster risks.

“For example, enhancing early warning systems would have reduced fatalities during the British Columbia heatwave, the Tonga volcano’s tsunami and the flooding in Lagos.” EFE


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