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2009 Global assessment report on disaster risk reduction: risk and poverty in a changing climate

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There is a growing trend towards greater and more catastrophic natural disasters. Of the ten disasters with the highest death tolls since 1975, half have occurred in the five year period between 2003 and 2008; with the developing world witnessing nine of the ten worst. Such terrible natural events are compounded by a range of factors such as climate change and the decline of ecosystems; increasing urbanisation and poor urban governance; and low incomes and fragile rural livelihoods. This first edition of the biennial Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to review and analyse the natural hazards threatening humanity and seeks to provide new evidence on how, where and why disaster risk is increasing globally. The report focuses on:

global disaster risk: patterns, trends and drivers
deconstructing disaster: risk patterns and poverty trends at the local level
progress in the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA: a ten-year framework adopted by 168 countries in order to mitigate the effect of natural disasters)
addressing the underlying risk factors.

Its main findings/recommendations include:

economic development increases a country’s exposure at the same time as it decreases its vulnerability. However, in low- and middle-income countries with rapidly growing economies, exposure increases at a far faster rate than vulnerability decreases, leading to increased risk overall.
risk drivers:  economic and social development play a crucial role. These include income and economic strength; and governance factors such as the quality of institutions, openness and government accountability
climate change: more than two thirds of the mortality and economic losses from internationally reported disasters is associated with meteorological, climatological and hydrological hazard
poverty and poor governance: the translation of poverty into risk is conditioned by the capacity of urban and local governments to plan and regulate urban development, enable access to safe land and provide hazard mitigating infrastructure and protection for poor households
areas of HFA progress reported: progress has been made in strengthening capacities, institutional systems and legislation to address deficiencies in disaster preparedness and response. However, little progress is being made in the mainstreaming of DRR into economic, social, urban, rural, environmental and infrastructure planning
community- and local-level approaches, particularly when supported by effective decentralization processes and government-civil society partnerships, can increase the relevance, effectiveness and sustainability of DRR across all practice areas, reduce costs and build social capital.

Also available in Arabic.