NEW DELHI: India has been ranked No. 3, after China and the US, in recording the highest number of natural disasters over the last 20 years (2000-2019), paying a huge economic and human cost.
In a report released by the UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) on Tuesday global economic losses have been estimated at $3 trillion in the last two decades. The study has avoided giving country-specific data for the losses. Extreme weather events — floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and wildfires — accounted for almost 91% of all 7,348 natural disasters in the last 20 years as compared to 4,212 recorded between 1980 and 1999.
“We are wilfully destructive. That’s the only conclusion one can come to when reviewing disaster events over the last 20 years. Covid-19 is but the latest proof that political and business leaders are yet to tune in to the world around them,” said Mami Mizutori, the head of UNDRR.
The study found that disasters have claimed approximately 1.2 million lives, an average of 60,000 per annum, and affected over 4 billion people with $2.9 trillion in economic losses over the last two decades. In comparison, 1.2 million lives were lost and $1.6 trillion in economic losses were incurred between 1980 and 1999. “China (577 events) and the US (467) reported the highest number of disasters, followed by India (321) and Philippines (304),” it said.
In its report: ‘Human cost of disasters, an overview of the last 20 years’, the UNDRR has warned how global warming is causing more climate related disasters, the frequency of which has increased by more than 83% in the last two decades compared to the previous two.
The last 20 years have witnessed 6,681 climate-related disasters compared to 3,656 during 1980-1999. Though mortality has decreased in the climate related events in the 21st century due to technological advances and better early warning systems, the report warns of a bigger cost paid by citizens on account of increasing economic damage and disruption in livelihood.