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UN Body: frequent disasters in Asia-Pacific a ‘sign of things to come’

Released before the sixth session of the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction in Bangkok, The United Nations Economic and Social Council for the Asia Pacific (UNESCAP)’s report titled ‘Asia-Pacific related Disaster Report 2019’ stated that negative impacts of natural disasters have worsened in the region.

The report states that many natural disasters in the region have become more intense, frequent, and complex. This can be seen from examples such as the unprecedented flooding in Iran in March 2019 and unusual cyclone activities that affected many Pacific Islands and other parts of the Asia-Pacific.

Speaking for UNESCAP, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary Ms Armida Alisjahbana stated that there need to be efforts in building resilience to these issues not only in priority areas but also across its surrounding regions. This is in order to reach out to the most marginalized and vulnerable.

With the addition of further environmental degradation and climate change, the UN regional body believes these are precedents of larger and more consequential issues. Throughout the year, the Asia-Pacific region has lost an estimated $675 Million, which constitutes of 2.4% of the region’s GDP.

The report has designated vulnerable ‘hotspots’ throughout the region. There are currently four hotspots which are most vulnerable in the Asia Pacific. The first hotspot is the many transboundary river basins that are located across the region. The second and the third one being the Pacific Ring of Fire and the Pacific small island developing states. Lastly, sand and dust storm corridors are also part of the locations that are deemed most vulnerable.

In solving these issues, UNESCAP believes in ‘transformative change’ that involves governments, ministries, and other agents to conjoin their plans of action in disaster and risk reduction. The report recommends greater investment in disaster resilience in order to not only prevent further damages from disasters but also to further social co-benefits. More importantly, the report also recommends policymakers to stop treating social policies and disaster resilience as separate policy areas in order to break the chain of poverty, inequality, and disasters.

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