Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2013
From Shared Risk to Shared Value: the Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction

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106 Part I - Chapter 7
Disaster risk in SIDS
In absolute terms, disaster risk in SIDS represents only a small proportion of global risk. However, because of their small size, often a very large proportion of their total produced capital is at risk to earthquakes, tropical cyclones and tsunamis.
The United Nations recognises 38 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and a further 14 non-UN member states and territories with similar characteristics in three regions: the Caribbean; the Pacific; and the Indian Ocean.i 
SIDS are highly exposed to a range of hazards. A large part of their population lives in the Low Elevation Coastal Zone, ii making them highly exposed to storm surges and tsunamis. Maldives, for example, has more than 80 percent of its population in this zone (GAR 13 paperMahon et al., 2012

GAR13 Reference Mahon, R., Backen, S. and Rennie, H. 2012.,Evaluating the Business Case for Investment in the Risk Resilience of the Tourism sector of Small Island Developing States., Background Paper prepared for the 2013 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction., Geneva,Switzerland: UNISDR..
Click here to view this GAR paper.
). Volcanic islands often feature relatively large, steep river catchment systems. These have risks of significant flash flooding and debris flows.
The GAR global risk model allows the estimation of risks for a number of these hazards, permitting a better understanding of the levels of disaster risk faced by SIDS.
Given their small size, the expected annual average losses (AAL) from earthquakes and tropical cyclone wind damage represent respectively only 2 percent and 1.4 percent of the global total.
However, precisely because of their small size, often a very large proportion of their total produced capital is at risk. For example, as Figure 7.1 highlights, in the case of a 1-in-250 year earthquake, 8 of the 10 countries that would lose the largest proportion of the value of their urban produced capital are SIDS. In the Solomon Islands, Dominica and Vanuatu, between 30 percent and 50 percent of the value of their urban produced capital would be lost.
As Figure 7.2 shows, in the case of a catastrophic one-in-250 year cyclone, the top 10 countries in terms of losses in relation to the value of urban produced capital are all islands, 6 of which are SIDS. Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands and Guadeloupe could all expect to lose more than 30 percent of the value of their urban produced capital to wind damage.
A significant proportion of their population and produced capital is also exposed to extreme tsunamis (Figure 7.3). The 2009 tsunami that affected Samoa,
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face high levels of disaster risk and have comparatively low economic resilience. Most of the countries with a large proportion of their total produced capital at risk to earthquakes, cyclone wind damage and tsunamis are SIDS. Solomon Islands, Dominica and Vanuatu all face losses of over 30 percent of the value of their produced capital in the case of a one-in-250 year earthquake.
14 of the 16 countries where wind damage from a one-in-250 year tropical cyclone would represent more than 60 percent of annual capital formation are SIDS or recognised small island territories; and 10 out of 13 countries in the case of earthquakes.
With small and undiversified economies, many SIDS are severely constrained to participate success fully in the global economy. But SIDS are probably the group of countries where investments in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation are likely to reap the greatest benefits. Investing in disaster risk reduction is most likely the best chance these countries have to attract investment, strengthen resilience and improve competitiveness and sustainability.
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