Every year, natural hazards cause significant loss of life and erode gains in economic development. Nine in ten of the most commonly reported disasters are directly or indirectly related to weather or climate. Vulnerability to disasters is increasing as more people inhabit high risk areas. Since 1970, the world’s population has grown by 87%. At the same time, the proportion of people living in flood-prone river basins increased by 114% and on cyclone-exposed coastlines by 192%. Rapid urbanization and the growth of megacities will increase exposure to natural hazards. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of the most severe weather-related hazards in the decades to come.
Equipped with quantitative risk information, countries can develop risk management strategies using early warning systems to reduce casualties; medium and long-term sectoral planning (such as land zoning, infrastructure development, water resource management, and agricultural planning) to reduce economic losses and build livelihood resilience; and weather-indexed insurance and risk financing mechanisms to transfer the financial impact of disasters.