Natural disasters caused economic losses worth 72,000 million dollars in the world in the first half of the year, a decrease of 20.8% compared to the same period in 2021, according to a report by the multinational reinsurer Swiss Re.
The data also represents a drop of 3% compared to the average of the last 10 years, although the company warns that “climate change is clearly causing an increase in extreme weather events such as recent unprecedented floods in Australia or South Africa.”
Global economic losses caused by natural disasters are estimated at over €70 billion in the first half of 2022, driven by storms and floods.
Natural Disaster losses
The losses for the insurance industry derived from these natural disasters between January and June amounted to 35,000 million dollars (34,000 million euros), a figure also lower than that of the previous year but 22% higher than the average of the last 10.
Among the catastrophes that caused the most losses, Swiss Re highlights the floods that affected Australia in February and March, which cost insurers 3,500 million dollars (3,400 million euros), a figure similar to that derived from the winter storms suffered by several European countries in February.
Storms and floods
The Swiss firm warns of the increase in losses associated with natural disasters considered in principle less serious, such as hail or floods, “exacerbated by rapid urbanization and the accumulation of wealth in areas sensitive to these catastrophes “.
“Unlike hurricanes or earthquakes, these types of dangerous events can occur anywhere, and their effects are worsened by rapid urban development in especially vulnerable areas,” warned the director of the catastrophe analysis division of Swiss Re, Martin Bertogg.
The Zurich firm recalled that 75% of the natural catastrophes that occur in the world are not covered by insurance, and predicted large losses from the drought and fires that are shaking Europe this summer, after the average temperature in June was the highest on record.
Human activity and behaviour are contributing to an increasing number of disasters around the world, endangering millions of lives and all social and economic gains, warns a recently released UN report.
The Global Assessment Report (GAR2022), published by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) prior to the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction last May, revealed that between 350 and 500 medium to large-scale disasters occurred each year for the last two decades. The number of disasters is projected to reach 560 per year, or more than one natural disaster per day, by 2030.
GAR2022 blames these disasters on a broken perception of risk based on “optimism, underestimation and invincibility”, leading to political, financial and development decisions that exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and put people at risk.
“The world must do more to incorporate disaster risk into the way we live, build and invest, says UN”
And it concludes that “ the world must do more to incorporate disaster risk into the way we live, build and invest, which is sending humanity into a spiral of self-destruction ”.
In this sense, disaster reduction and prevention must be a priority for all governments and the United Nations advocates international cooperation to invest in predictive tools with stronger data capabilities, “new multilateral instruments” such as the Complex Risk Analysis Fund UN, which supports “data ecosystems” that can better anticipate, prevent and respond to complex threats, before they become full-blown disasters.
It is about developing a set of risk analyses and investing in coordination and data infrastructure that enables knowledge sharing and joint anticipatory action. Such investments will help navigate complex risks sooner, faster, and in a more targeted and efficient way, according to the UN.
In short, as stated at COP 27, the United Nations intends to guarantee that all people on earth are covered by Early Warning Systems within a period of five years.
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