Over the past two decades, the Asia-Pacific region has made significant progress in disaster risk management. But countries can never underestimate their protectors. The COVID-19 epidemic, now centered in Asia, and all its tragic consequences have exposed the weaknesses of human societies to powerful social forces. As of mid-August 2021, there were 65 million confirmed corona virus cases and more than 1 million deaths in Asian and Pacific countries. It is complicated by extreme weather events that are affecting the whole world. Despite the different contexts in the geographical areas, the effects of climate change are evident due to flooding in China, India and parts of Western Europe, while heatwaves and fires in parts of North America, Southern Europe and Asia. woke up.
The human and economic effects of disasters, including biological and climate change, are listed in our 2021 Asia-Pacific Disaster Report. It shows that climate change is increasing the risk of extreme events such as heat waves, heavy rains and floods, droughts, tropical storms and wildfires. Heat waves and related biological hazards are expected to increase, especially in East and Northeast Asia, while South and Southwest Asia will face severe flooding and related diseases. However, other natural disasters such as cyclones or floods have killed fewer people in recent decades. This is partly the result of a stronger early warning system and responsible protection, but also because governments are beginning to understand the importance of dealing with the threat of disaster in a coordinated manner rather than responding to the threat.
However, much remains to be done. As the Cove 19 epidemic has shown, most countries are still unprepared for multiple overlapping crises – often quarreling, mobilizing each other. Tropical cyclones, for example, can cause flooding, disease, and increase poverty. In the five hotspots around the region where people are most at risk, human and economic catastrophes such as these tremors meet and discuss the dangers of the poor living in the region’s vast river basin. Highlight
Disasters threaten not only human lives but also lives. And they are likely to be even more expensive in the future as their effects are exacerbated by climate change.
The annual damage from both natural and biological hazards in Asia and the Pacific is estimated at about 7 7.780 billion. In the worst-case scenario of climate change, the annual economic losses from these major risks could reach 1. 1.3 trillion – equivalent to 4.2% of regional GDP.
Instead of deeming human and economic expenditures inevitable, countries will do better to ensure that their populations and their infrastructure are more flexible. This includes strengthening infrastructure such as bridges and roads, as well as schools and other buildings that provide shelter and assistance in times of crisis. Above all, governments must invest in stronger health infrastructure. This will require a lot of resources. The annual cost of adapting to natural and other biological hazards under the worst climate change scenario is estimated at 270 billion. Even so, owning one-fifth of estimated annual losses – or 0.85% of Asia-Pacific GDP – is cheap.
Where can the extra funds come from? Some may come from a modest income. Governments can also look at new, innovative sources of finance, such as climate resilience bonds, debt flexibility exchanges and debt relief measures.
Covid 19 has once again shown how all catastrophes are intertwined – how a public health crisis can trigger rapid economic catastrophe and social upheaval. This is what is meant by “military threat” and this is the threat that policymakers need to address now if they want to protect their poorest people.
This means not only responding faster with aid packages, but also anticipating emergencies and building stronger social protection systems that make vulnerable communities safer and more flexible. Fortunately, as the report points out, the new technology, which often exploits mobile phones everywhere, is offering more opportunities to connect people and communities financially and in other ways. In order to better identify, understand and disrupt the COVID-19 transmission mechanism, countries have turned to “frontier technologies” such as artificial intelligence and big data manipulation. They have also used advanced modeling techniques for early detection, rapid diagnosis and prevention.
Asia and the Pacific is a vast and diverse region. The risk of catastrophe in the Central Asian plains is very different from the small island states in the Pacific Ocean. What all countries should have in common are principles for more integrated and systematic disaster risk management.