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Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023


Recently, the release of the Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023 has thrust the world’s interdependence into the spotlight, warning of impending global tipping points and underlining the critical need for immediate action to prevent potential catastrophic consequences.


GS III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Major Findings of the Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023
  2. Major Drivers of Increasing Disaster Risks
  3. Solutions to Mitigate Disaster Risk

Major Findings of the Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023

About the Report
  • The UN Interconnected Disaster Risks Report is an annual publication by the United Nations University- Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).
  • First published in 2021, it examines the interconnections between various disasters and human actions.
Risk Tipping Points
  • The report introduces the concept of “risk tipping points,” where socio-ecological systems can no longer buffer risks, leading to catastrophic impacts.

Environmental Tipping Points

  • The world is nearing six environmental tipping points, including:
    • Depletion of aquifers, which provide water for over 2 billion people, with 70% used for agriculture.
    • Over-extraction in areas like Saudi Arabia, depleting over 80% of its aquifer and impacting food security.
    • Groundwater depletion in the Indo-Gangetic basin in India, with the northwestern region facing limited availability by 2025.
    • Accelerated species extinction due to human activities, leading to ecosystem collapses.
    • Glacial melting at double the rate due to global warming, with a projected loss of 50% of glaciers by 2100.
    • Risk to 90,000+ glaciers in the Himalayas, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush mountains, affecting 870 million people.
Space Debris Problem
  • The growing number of satellites in space has led to a space debris problem.
  • Only 25% of objects in orbit are active satellites, with about 130 million smaller, untrackable debris pieces.
  • These debris pieces pose a collision risk to operational satellites, creating a hazardous orbital environment.
Deadly Heat Waves
  • Climate change is causing more deadly heat waves, with high temperatures and humidity making it difficult for the body to cool down.
  • Wet-bulb temperatures exceeding 35°C for over six hours can lead to organ failure and brain damage.
  • Expected to affect over 70% of the global population by 2100.
Severe Weather and Economic Impact
  • Frequent severe weather events have caused a sevenfold increase in damages since the 1970s, resulting in USD 313 billion in losses in 2022.
  • Insurance costs are rising due to climate change, making coverage unaffordable for many.
  • Some insurers are leaving high-risk areas, rendering regions “uninsurable,” as seen in Australia with increased flood risk.
Common Driver: Climate Change
  • Climate change, driven by increased greenhouse gas emissions, acts as a common driver of tipping points, impacting glacier melting, extreme weather events, and changes in the insurance risk landscape.
  • These interconnected environmental issues can trigger feedback loops, like rising sea levels from glacier melt, intensifying coastal flooding, and increasing the demand for disaster insurance.
  • Ultimately, these tipping points have significant socioeconomic consequences.

Major Drivers of Increasing Disaster Risks

Rapid Urbanization

  • Occurs without adequate planning and infrastructure development.
  • As cities expand, more people and property are exposed to hazards like floods and earthquakes, increasing vulnerability to disasters.

Environmental Degradation

  • Deforestation, soil erosion, and pollution weaken natural ecosystems.
  • Reduced ability of ecosystems to act as buffers against disasters amplifies the impacts of hazards.

Insufficient Infrastructure

  • Inadequately built or maintained infrastructure, such as bridges, buildings, and roads, can crumble during disasters, resulting in significant economic and social losses.

Inadequate Land Use Planning

  • Poor land use planning can lead to communities settling in high-risk areas, such as floodplains or wildfire-prone regions.
  • This contributes to increased exposure to disasters.

Mismanagement of Water Resources

  • Mismanagement can lead to droughts, water scarcity, and flooding.
  • These issues have far-reaching consequences for food security, economies, and communities.

Interconnected World

  • As the world becomes more interconnected, disruptions in one area can have cascading effects globally.
  • This interconnectedness can propagate the economic and social impact of disasters.

Solutions to Mitigate Disaster Risk

The UN Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023 provides a four-category framework for classifying and prioritizing solutions to address disaster risks:


  • These actions aim to prevent disasters by slowing them down using current methods.
  • Example: Implementing strict building codes and land-use regulations to prevent major damage from disasters.


  • These actions focus on preventing disasters by making significant changes in how things are done.
  • Example: Transitioning from fossil fuel-based energy production to renewable energy sources (like solar and wind) to avoid the risks associated with climate change.


  • These actions prepare us to handle disasters by buying more time to respond effectively.
  • Example: Developing advanced early warning systems for tsunamis to buy time for people to evacuate and prepare for the disaster.


  • These actions involve making significant changes to how we do things to adapt to disasters.
  • Example: Implementing coastal zoning policies and restoring natural barrier ecosystems (like mangroves) to adapt to rising sea levels and transform coastal protection strategies.

-Source: Hindustan Times

December 2023