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Climate Risk Management

In many parts of the world, natural hazards such as floods, droughts and storms contribute to increasing socio-economic and ecological disturbances. Managing such risks is a major challenge, particularly for developing and least developed, countries.

Comparisons of various disasters

Comparisons of various disasters     Image: OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database

Every year, disasters related to meteorological, hydrological and climate hazards cause significant loss of life, and set back economic and social development by years, if not decades. This can be seen in the image above.  Between 1980 and 2005, nearly 7500 natural disasters worldwide took the lives of over 2 million people and produced economic losses estimated at over 1.2 trillion US dollars. Of this, 90 per cent of the natural disasters, 72.5 per cent of casualties and 75 per cent of economic losses were caused by weather-, climate- and water-related hazards such as droughts, floods, windstorms, tropical cyclones, storm surges, extreme temperatures, land slides and wild fires, or by health epidemics and insect infestations directly linked to meteorological and hydrological conditions.

Climate-related disasters, and therefore climate risk management, often has a negative connotation. This is because climate disasters inflict so much damage to society. However, on the same hand, ‘climate-related risk management’ also bears a great potential to capture ‘benefits’ from the windows of opportunity offered by the climate. Appropriate climate information distributed through an efficient delivery system can alert health and food officials to optimise the allocation of medical resources to fight malaria outbreaks or assure food and water security long before the actual natural hazard sets in. Early warning systems give communities time to prepare for the disaster, saving lives if not infrastructure as well.

WMO and Climate Disaster Risk Reduction

WMO established its Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Programme, in 2003, to strengthen and integrate disaster risk reduction processes related to meteorological, hydrological and climate hazards into the climate services of its WMO operational and research networks. It is planned to be integrated in all countries, however particularly in those with the least resources and are therefore more vulnerable to climate disasters. Through this crosscutting programme, WMO is developing an organization-wide coordinating framework to achieve these objectives at the international, regional and national levels. Part of this framework is the Hyogo Framework for Action plan, produced in 2005 at the Second World Conference on Disaster Reduction. The Framework for Action (2005-2015) highlights actions to help countries prevent and prepare for climate disasters.

While there have been a number of excellent fora for climate researchers from around the world to meet and discuss progress, knowledge gaps and research needs, there have not been many opportunities for climate information providers to meet with policy makers and user sector representatives. Climate researchers have made great efforts to produce the most reliable information on the state and variability of the climate system to provide guidance to policy makers to develop policies that will address challenging issues impacting livelihoods and food security.

[Further information] can be found on the WMO’s disaster risk reduction programme website

[Further information] Hyogo Framework for Action

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