UN Calls for Stronger Risk Management in Asia Pacific

Asia PacificA new report from the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) outlines the crucial need for risk reduction in the most disaster-prone region in the world.

From 2005 to 2014 the Asia-Pacific region had 1,625 reported disaster events. Approximately 500,000 people lost their lives, around 1.4 billion people were affected, and there was $523 billion worth of economic damage.

Titled “Disasters Without Borders: Regional Resilience for Sustainable Development,” the ESCAP report outlines examples of success in region by sharing technology, information and expertise in disaster preparedness. It also identifies issues like cross-border floods and landslides as areas where information and resource sharing must be improved.

The report calls for increased Investing in disaster risk reduction as a cost-effective measure that can avert or minimize costly damage. For instance: investments in hydrometeorological early warning systems in Asia and the Pacific, can have returns between 4 and 36 times the initial investment.

Of particular concern is the potential for a prolonged drought, which will slow down income growth not just in agriculture, but also in related activities, including agro-processing, with added effects for employment and incomes in other parts of the rural economy.

To that end, the report recommends these resiliency steps:

  • Long-term risk management
  • A livelihood approach (support poverty eradication as part of inclusive and sustainable development)
  • Maintaining healthy watersheds and soil systems
  • Extensive coordination and planning across all key stakeholders.
  • Adapting science and technology including space applications, hydrology and meteorology
  • Agricultural insurance with payouts triggered by rainfall or temperature thresholds, with opportunities for public-private partnerships
  • Social safety nets, and
  • Regional cooperation.

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