WASHINGTON, CMC – On the heels of a sobering United Nations’ report on dramatic climate extremes expected to occur around the world, officials from donor and developing countries, such as the Caribbean, along with international organizations, have reaffirmed their commitments to making disaster resilience a priority in development planning.
The officials, meeting during the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings, recognized that linking disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, and building them into the development agenda, is critical to building resilience in communities and countries.
“We have too often witnessed how disasters can roll back years of development progress,” said Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank managing director.
“On top of that, we now need to prepare for a changing world — rapid urbanization and a changing climate are reshaping and exacerbating disaster risks,” he added.
“But geography need not be destiny, and the future — however uncertain and unpredictable when we factor in the impact of climate change – need not be feared if correct preventive policies are taken today,” Mohieldin continued.
Convened by the European Union, Japan and the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, the meeting was informed by last month’s report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — Special Report on Managing the Risk of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.
The report documents that current extreme weather events are projected to become more common in the future, and a changing climate is the cause.
According to Christopher Field, Co-Chair of the IPCC Working Group ll, “The risk profiles are changing — several kinds of climate and weather extremes are increasing and are projected to increase in the future.
“In the second half of the century, we are looking at a ten-fold increase in the frequency of severe heat events,” he said. “The most extreme heat waves that we currently experience only once a decade will become annual events.”
The report warns that extreme events will have greater impacts on sectors with closer links to climate, such as water, agriculture and food security, forestry, health, and tourism.
Dr. Field pointed out that many places are already seeing increases in extremes in heavy precipitation and in the length and severity of droughts.
He said the most vulnerable people in the developing world would be hardest hit.
The World Bank said the key message from the IPCC report is the need for climate change adaptation, disaster risk management, and sustainable development to be integrated in order to help build resilience.
“But the numbers tell us that we’re not there yet,” it warned. “The world is still spending more on humanitarian aid after a disaster than on prevention before it.
According to Andris Piebalgs, the European Union’s commissioner for development, global disaster losses amounted to 264 billion US dollars in 2011 - twice the level of all overseas development aid that year.