Top Trends in Disaster Risk

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Disaster risk trends help us to determine whether our DRR efforts are effective.

Disaster risk trends are a measure of the sustainability of development. Trend analysis helps us to understand patterns of disaster risk and, consequently, whether disaster risk reduction is being effective. Using disaster trends to inform policy and practice requires a good understanding of the limits of these trends. The pattern the trend displays (rising, falling or fluctuating) is only as real as the amount, quality and reliability of the data used. For instance, patterns of disaster losses may actually reflect a number of factors unrelated to disaster risk, including the time period over which they are measured and improvements in disaster risk reporting. In order to account for these problems, analysts determine the statistical significance of the trend.


"Distribution of disaster mortality by income group, 1990-2013 UNISDR with data from EM-DAT

Partial success in reducing mortality associated with intensive risks

UNISDR (2015a) [GAR15]

"The last decade has seen dramatic reductions in disaster mortality in selected countries and regions. But not all countries have been able to reduce the vulnerabilities associated with disaster mortality faster than the hazard-exposed population has increased.


Overall and insured losses worldwide, 1980-2013 Munich Re, 2013: Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE, as of January 2014

Increasing exposure of economic assets

UNISDR (2015a) [GAR15]

Global loss trends indicate that the rapid growth of economic assets in hazard prone areas is increasing disaster risk.


Mortality from disasters concentrated in a few intensive events UNISDR with data from national loss databases (UNISDR, 2015)

Global mortality losses are concentrated in intensive disasters

UNISDR, 2015a

Mortality losses are concentrated in a few intensive disasters, and recent disasters give the false impressions that global mortalities are on the rise.


Extensive mortality, 1990-2013 (65 countries, 2 Indian states) UNISDR with data from national loss databases (UNISDR, 2015)

Upward trend of mortality and economic losses from extensive risk in low and middle-income countries

UNISDR (2015a) [GAR15]

"Whereas most high-income countries have significantly reduced extensive risk associated with losses over short return periods (the average frequency with which a particular loss is expected to occur), mortality and economic losses associated with extensive risk appear to be trending upwards in low and middle-income countries."


AAL from tropical cyclone wind for Caribbean and Central American countries, with and without climate change UNISDR with data from Global Risk Assessment (UNISDR, 2015b)

Climate change is predicted to increase disaster risk in the Caribbean basin

UNISDR (2015b) [GAR15]

In the Caribbean, climate change will contribute an additional US$1.4 billion to expected annual losses by 2050 (Figure). This figure only represents the losses associated with increased wind damage and excludes additional losses from storm surge due to sea level rise.


Human demand already exceeds the planet’s capacities Global Footprint Network (2013) in UNISDR (2015a)

Overconsumption of natural resources is driving disaster risk

UNISDR (2015b) [Pocket GAR15]

The pursuit of unlimited economic growth has led to an increasing and unsustainable overconsumption of energy, fresh water, forests and marine habitats, clean air and rich soil at the global scale. Many ecosystems that play vital protective and provisioning roles are being degraded beyond the point of recovery, which can magnify hazard levels, increase vulnerability and challenge resilience.


"Progress in selected human development indicators in Bangladesh" UNISDR with data from the World Bank (UNISDR, 2015a [GAR15])

Progress in poverty reduction

UNISDR (2015a) [GAR15]

In general, those countries that have managed to reduce disaster mortality significantly have also managed to enhance disaster management within a broader context of improving development indicators.


Projected poverty levels in 2030 in countries ranking highest on the multi-hazard (earthquakes, cyclones, droughts, extreme heat and floods) index Shepard et al. (2013)

Predicted poverty levels in hazard-prone countries in 2030

Shepard et al. (2013)

Climate change and exposure to natural hazards threaten to derail international efforts to eradicate poverty by 2030.