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Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation

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C., B. Field (ed)
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This Summary for Policymakers presents key findings from the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). It assesses scientific literature on issues that range from the relationship between climate change, extreme weather and climate events to the implications of these events for society and sustainable development. It examines how exposure and vulnerability to weather and climate events determine impacts and the likelihood of disasters. It also considers the role of development trends in exposure and vulnerability, implications for disaster risk, and interactions between disasters and development. The authors note that changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events. Exposure and vulnerability vary across temporal and spatial scales, and depend on economic, social, geographic, demographic, cultural, institutional, governance and environmental factors. They further explain that settlement patterns, urbanisation and changes in socioeconomic conditions have all influenced observed trends in exposure and vulnerability to climate extremes. Economic losses from weather and climate related disasters have increased. These are higher in developed countries though fatality rates and economic losses expressed as a proportion of GDP are higher in developing countries. The report discusses that confidence in projecting changes in the direction and magnitude of climate extremes depends on many factors, including the region and season, the amount and quality of observational data, the level of understanding of the underlying processes and the reliability of their simulation in models. The paper gives the following recommendations.

There is a need to integrate disaster risk management and adaptation into all social, economic and environmental policy domains.
There is need to reconcile decisions between short-term and long-term perspectives on disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change. To overcome the disconnect between local risk management practices and national institutional and legal frameworks, policy and planning.
Governments and other relevant parties need to give an emphasis on post-disaster recovery and reconstruction which provide an opportunity for improving adaptive capacity.
There is need for risk sharing and transfer mechanisms at local, national, regional and global scales. This could increase resilience to climate extremes.
There is need to give attention to the temporal and spatial dynamics of exposure and vulnerability when designing disaster risk management strategies and policies.
There is need for closer integration of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, along with the incorporation of both into local, subnational, national, and international development policies and practices.