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How Converging Climate Hazards in Asia Could Create $1.43 Billion in Losses for the Region

September 1, 2021 Leave a comment DRI Admin

In Asia and the Pacific, natural and biological hazards are converging, creating cascading risks on populations and infrastructures, according to a new report from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

“Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2021: Resilience in a Riskier World” looks at risks in the region under current, moderate, and worst-case scenarios. It estimates annual economic losses from these converging climate change hazards could nearly double to $1.43 billion under worst-case, overlapping hazard scenarios in the five major hotspots:

  • East/Northeast Asia – Heatwaves and related hazards increasing along with existing risks of earthquakes and tropical cyclones
  • North/Central Asia – High COVID-19 rates along with emerging drought, land degradation and biological hazards due to climate change
  • South/Southwest/Southeast Asia – Global epicenters of COVID-19, along with systemic failures and intensifying weather events, and
  • Pacific Small Island Developing States – Emerging high COVID-19 rates, superimposed with cyclones and other hazards, creating a new and complex riskscape.

While each region’s disaster hazards will require different, specific solutions, they all share the common need for both national and subregional cooperation. “There is a need for a regional strategy on building back better with disaster, climate and health resilience,” the report says. National policy actions need to focus on four priority areas:

Envisaging risk scenarios – “Planners will need to invest more in the development of composite risk matrices to identify and stratify vulnerable populations, and their varying needs and capacities, in order to make comprehensive risk assessments and take targeted actions.”

Capitalizing on Frontier Technologies – AI and big data have enabled a better understanding of COVID-19 transmission mechanisms; similar new technologies can be combined with social organization and mobilization in densely populated urban areas.

Investing in Health and Social Protection – The pandemic has highlighted the importance of strong social protection and preparedness that must be built upon, along with investments in health and education infrastructure and service delivery.

Targeting Additional Fiscal Spending – Governments need to boost resilience through targeted, forward thinking spending; how much money should be allocated compared against the high worst-case scenario financial costs.

Similarly, for subregional cooperation, the four strategies proposed include:

  • Policy coherence
  • Multi-hazard and integrated early warning systems
  • Climate change adaptation, and
  • Investing in resilient health infrastructure.

Click here to read the complete report.


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