19th March 2014

Dare to Prepare: Taking Disaster Risk Seriously

In May of last year, the United Nations issued a stark warning: Economic losses from disasters are "out of control." According to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, "So far this century, direct losses from disasters are in the range of $2.5 trillion. This is unacceptable when we have the knowledge to reduce the losses and benefit from the gains."

However, funding for reducing the risk of disasters is a tiny fraction of total development spending. Funding for disaster risk reduction has amounted cumulatively to $13.5 billion over the past 20 years, equivalent to 0.4 percent of the $3 trillion in overall development commitments worldwide. A large proportion of this development spending is at risk of being damaged or destroyed by disasters, which will only increase as climate change continues to evolve.

Furthermore, a recent study including the United Nations, governments, and NGOs, revealed that action to prepare for disasters is also consistently lacking across nations. This is despite a growing body of evidence that greater investment in preparedness and reduction of risks associated with disasters is far more cost-effective. For example, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) commissioned a study last year that suggested that the international community is wasting billions of dollars every year that could be protected simply by ensuring effective preparedness activities are in place, at very little cost. For more information, please see the recently released report and video by ODI, Dare to Prepare: