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World Risk Report 2012 Highlights Global Disaster Risk Hotspots

11 October 2012: The World Risk Report 2012, published by the Alliance Development Works (Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft) in collaboration with the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and The Nature Conservancy, focuses on the theme of environmental degradation and disasters, assessing disaster risk based on information from 173 countries.

The report's centerpiece is its World Risk Index that identifies countries and regions at high risk of disasters based on 28 indicators, considering: exposure to natural hazards; susceptibility in relation to infrastructure, nutrition, housing and economic conditions; coping capacity; and adaptation capacity in relation to future extreme events. It emphasizes that climate change and the more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events are permanently aggravating the hazard situation and increasing vulnerability.

The report identifies disaster risk hotspots in the following regions: Oceania, Southeast Asia, the southern Sahel, Central America and the Caribbean. It underscores that disaster risk is linked to the impacts of climate change as well as human intervention, including through over-cultivation of land, deforestation, clear-cutting of coastal vegetation, coral reef destruction, and river regulation. Among the 15 countries with the highest risk worldwide, eight are island State countries, with Vanuatu ranking highest.

The authors comment that proposals to manipulate the climate through geo-engineering technologies could greatly exacerbate disaster risk, adding that political awareness of the relationships between environmental degradation, poverty and disaster risk has grown in the context of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). They highlight that current discussions on the post-2015 development agenda offer an opportunity to comprehensively consider the links between poverty, environmental degradation and disaster risk. [Publication: World Risk Report 2012] [UNU-EHS Press Release]