Future Development Must Be Centred Around Risk


Future Development Must Be Centred Around Risk

posted on: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


by: Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction



  • Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction
    Margareta Wahlström
    Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk 



Around 20% of the Earth is at risk from at least one natural hazard and more than half the world’s six billion plus population is exposed. In a matter of minutes, at least one hazard can change the world they know. Only through incorporating risk into development planning can we start to reduce this exposure.

In general, the poorest are the most disproportionally affected by disasters. Poorer countries cannot absorb repeated disaster costs. In the wake of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Honduras’ President, Carlos Roberto Flores said damages totaling US$6 billion had destroyed 50 years of progress. Following the Indus River floods in Pakistan, the provincial Punjabi Authority allocated most of the development budget to disaster response with little likelihood of replenishment. Essentially, these losses nullify investments made by poorer countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Indeed, the costs of disasters are challenging the very basis of investments. The earthquake in Haiti completely devastated one of the world’s poorest countries. The Pakistan floods disrupted economic growth, agricultural production, and cost around US$12 billion. The Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 caused at least US$300 billion in damage; floods in Australia in 2010 cost US$10 billion; while an earthquake in the same year in New Zealand cost upward of US$5.5 billion. And cities with fast growing populations in hazard prone areas will incur larger costs to pay for the damage and losses that will occur with increasing frequency.


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