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WMO report: Weather disasters killed 2 million in 50 years

Context:

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses which is the most comprehensive review of mortality and economic losses from weather, water and climate extremes ever produced.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Environmental Pollution and Degradation), GS-III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
  2. Highlights of the Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses 
  3. Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction
  4. Way Forwards suggested by the WMO’s Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses

About the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

  • World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is an intergovernmental organisation that originated from the International Meteorological Organisation (IMO) and became a specialised agency of the UN in 1951.
  • The United Nations Economic and Social Council is the parent organization of the UN’s WMO.
  • The WMO has 193 Member States and 6 Member Territories and it is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Functions of the World Meteorological Organisation can be stated as:

  1. Coordinating activities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the member countries.
  2. Providing a guarantee of publishing the statistics and observation of Meteorology and Hydrology.
  3. The WMO also encourages R&D in Meteorology and Hydrology.
  4. Predicting the locust swarms and transport of various pollutants is another responsibility of the WMO.

WMO’s Publications/Reports

  • The World Meteorological Organisation publishes an annual report on the status of the World Climate. This report will provide detailed information on temperatures at the local, national and global levels along with extreme weather events.
  • The WMO report also provides information on long term climate change indicators. These indicators include the rise in sea levels, the extent of sea ice and concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Other reports published by the WMO are:

  1. Status of World Climate
  2. Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

Highlights of the Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses 

  • The number of disasters has increased by a factor of five over the 50-year period, driven by climate change, more extreme weather and improved reporting.
  • From 1970 to 2019, weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50% of all disasters, 45% of all reported deaths and 74% of all reported economic losses. More than 91% of these deaths occurred in developing countries with droughts, storms, floods and extreme temperature being the leading causes.
  • Due to improved early warning systems and disaster management, the number of deaths decreased almost threefold between 1970 and 2019.
  • However, during the 50-year period, US$ 202 million dollars in damage occurred on average every day. Economic losses have increased sevenfold from the 1970s to the 2010s.
  • The number of weather, climate and water extremes are increasing and will become more frequent and severe in many parts of the world as a result of climate change.
  • More water vapor in the atmosphere has exacerbated extreme rainfall and flooding, and the warming oceans have affected the frequency and extent of the most intense tropical storms. This has augmented the vulnerability of low-lying megacities, deltas, coasts and islands in many parts of the world.
  • The report also warned that the failure to reduce disaster losses as set out in the 2015 Sendai Framework is putting at risk the ability of developing countries to eradicate poverty and to achieve other important Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

  • The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was approved at the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015 held in Sendai, Japan. (It is the successor to the Hyogo Framework that came into effect from 2005 and ended in 2015).
  • This treaty is voluntary and not binding upon the member states and under the framework, the primary role of the Member States is to reduce the identified disaster risks.
  • The framework has a time frame of 15 years, i.e., 2015-2030. 
  • United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) is tasked with the implementation, follow-up, support and review of the Sendai Framework.

Objectives of the Sendai Framework

  1. SFDRR aims at achieving a substantial reduction of disaster risk and disaster losses in lives, livelihoods and health; in the environmental, cultural, social, physical-economic assets of people, communities, businesses over the next 15 years.
  2. The framework comprises of a set of standards, an all-encompassing framework containing achievable targets and an instrument with a legal basis for disaster risk reduction.
  3. The framework calls for the sharing of responsibility among the stakeholders including the private sector, the government and the other stakeholders.
  4. It highlights the concerns on human health and well-being that are common to disaster risk reduction, climate change and sustainable development.

Focus area under the Sendai Framework

  • Understanding the disaster risk.
  • Strengthening the governance of disaster risks for managing disaster risks.
  • Investments in disaster risk reduction for resilience
  • Improving the disaster preparedness to ensure effective response, recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Way Forwards suggested by the WMO’s Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses

  1. There is a need to install early warning systems in developing and under-developed countries – as, only half of WMO’s 193 member countries have multi-hazard early warning systems and severe gaps in weather and hydrological observing networks exist in Africa, some parts of Latin America and in Pacific and Caribbean island States.
  2. There is a need for a greater investment in comprehensive disaster risk management to ensure that climate change adaptation is integrated in national and local disaster risk reduction strategies.
  3. The report further recommends countries to review hazard exposure and vulnerability considering a changing climate to reflect that tropical cyclones may have different tracks, intensity and speed than in the past.
  4. It also calls for the development of integrated and proactive policies on slow-onset disasters such as drought.

-Source: Indian Express 

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