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Inadequate infrastructure and weak logistic chains substantially increase the risk that an extreme natural event will become a disaster. This is a core finding of the World Risk Report 2016, produced by the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University and the Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft – Gemeinsam für Menschen in Not, in cooperation with the University of Stuttgart.
Nature cannot be controlled and humans can only influence to a limited degree whether, and with what intensity, natural events are to occur. But they can take precautions to help prevent a natural event from becoming a disaster. It is this vulnerability of a society that forms the basis for the World Risk Index, which calculates the disaster risk by multiplying vulnerability with exposure to natural hazards (cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, foods, and sea-level rise). This risk is especially high wherever natural events hit vulnerable societies. While a low level of vulnerability is not a guaranteed protection against disasters, it can reduce the risk.
“Societal factors, such as nutrition, medical services and governance, decide to a large extent whether a natural hazard becomes a disaster,” said Dr. Torsten Welle, Senior Scientist at IREUS. “But through targeted interventions the impacts of disasters can be reduced and important lessons can be learned from recognized weaknesses.”
The index assesses the risk of disaster in 171 countries and the island state of Vanuatu once again displays the greatest risk. The United Kingdom comes in at 131st place, while the United States is 127th, Canada is 145th and Australia is 121st.
The top ten countries with the highest risk according to the report are:
The top ten countries with the lowest risk according to the report are:
The risk of disasters remains high in 2016. From 1980 onwards, a significant increase was recorded in the number of reported disaster events worldwide. Estimated damage levels continue to reach new peaks. And while this trend has been on a downward trajectory since 2012, this could change at any time. The 2015 statistics are a stark reminder that there is still an urgent need for action despite this decline: The United Nations recorded 346 reported disasters, more than 22,000 deaths, almost 100 million affected persons and economic damage totalling approximately US $66.5 billion.
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Aug 04, 2016 14:39 BST
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