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More measures needed to boost disaster resilience in Asia-Pacific: United Nations

AS natural disasters become more frequent in the region, greater action needs to be taken to promote disaster resilience, according to a report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2017 shows that the greatest impacts of disasters are felt in countries which have the least capacity to prepare or respond to these events. Between 2000 and 2015, low and lower middle-income countries in the region experienced almost 15 times more disaster deaths vis-a-vis high-income countries in the region.

The research indicates that between 2015 and 2030, 40 per cent of global economic losses from disasters will be in the Asia-Pacific, while the region accounts for around 36 per cent of global GDP (gross domestic product). It also shows that future natural disasters may have greater destructive potential.

The most heavily affected will be small island developing states, with expected average annual losses close to 4 per cent of their GDP, while the least developed countries will have annual losses of around 2.5 per cent of GDP.

United Nations under-secretary-general and executive secretary of ESCAP, Shamshad Akhtar, highlighted that action on early warning systems is imperative, and stressed the need for innovative sources of disaster risk financing to protect livelihoods.

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Dr Akhtar said: "Developing cost-effective financing is needed to decrease the existing resilience gaps.

"The absence of an institutionalised insurance culture and adequate post disaster financing threaten our extraordinary economic and developmental achievements. Promoting more, and deeper, collaboration among countries in the region on disaster risk financing will be an ESCAP priority," she added.

According to ESCAP, measures for disaster risk reduction should take account of the changing risks associated with climate change, especially in risk hotspots.

"Although interventions to reduce disaster risk cannot alone prevent conflict, they should be part of an integrated approach to conflict prevention and peace-building," ESCAP said in a release.

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