Thursday, March 7, 2013

2012 least deadly for natural disasters in 10 years, but lack of resilience leaves key economies at ‘extreme risk’

Maplecroft press release: With less than 10,000 lives lost worldwide, 2012 was the least deadly for natural disasters in the last 10 years, due largely to the lack of major events outside high-income countries that possess strong socio-economic resilience – the ability to withstand shock and bounce back. However, new research from risk analysis company, Maplecroft reveals that resilience to major weather and seismic events is not improving in some of the world’s most important growth markets, leaving large sections of their populations, essential infrastructure and economies at ‘extreme risk.’

Over 2012, fatalities from natural hazards stood at 9% of the yearly average of 106,000 from the previous decade, while recorded natural disasters also saw a significant fall to 251 events, constituting a 65% drop on the 10 year average of 380.

According to Maplecroft’s annual Natural Hazards Risk Atlas, which evaluates the exposure and resilience of 197 countries to 12 natural hazards, there is a danger that the relatively quiet year of 2012 may lead to further complacency in relation to disaster risk preparedness in some of the most exposed and least resilient countries. This would have potentially devastating consequences when major natural hazards inevitably do occur.  Consequently, supply chains and investors are exposed to greater risk than anticipated, as natural disasters can exacerbate other political and societal risks from regime stability to food security and societal unrest.

The growth of mega-cities in countries, such as Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Viet Nam, which are prone to earthquakes and weather related events means population expansion into flood plains and low-lying coastal areas will leave more people exposed to these devastating hazards, in addition to the negative impacts for critical centres of economic output. Maplecroft states that without significant improvements in resilience, natural hazards are more likely to manifest as disasters in these countries.

Maplecroft states that the substantial drop in global fatalities not only relates to the reduced number of natural hazards, but also to the strength of resilience in the countries where 2012’s major events occurred. Superstorm Sandy, in spite of its strength and size, killed only 159 people in the United States, due largely to the country’s highly sophisticated response and well developed infrastructure and communications networks. In contrast, the deadliest event of 2012, Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, resulted in over 1,000 deaths even though fewer people were exposed to the storm’s path, as it swept across Manila and the surrounding region....

Map from the Maplecroft website

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