This FEMA photo taken May 4, 2010, shows the extent of flooding in downtown Nashville, Tenn. (David Fine/FEMA photo)

UN Official: Most Disasters Climate Related

The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction is taking place March 14-18 in the northern Japanese city of Sendai. Participants will seek to chart a global course on disaster risk reduction for the coming decade.

The head of the United Nations office dedicated to disaster risk reduction is urging world leaders ahead of a major meeting in Sendai, Japan, to provide action-oriented guidance to tackle the underlying drivers of risk, such as climate change, saying it now accounts for 87 percent of the disasters that have killed some 700,000 people over the past decade.

"Despite many successes and greatly improved performance in disaster management, it is sobering to note that 700,000 people have died in disaster events over the last ten years," said Margareta Wahlström, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. "A total of 1.7 billion people have had their lives disrupted in some way. It is of great concern that economic losses in major reported disaster events come to $1.4 trillion."

An infographic provided by her office indicates China experienced the most disasters from 2005 to 2014, with 286, followed by the United States, with 212.

She said while 70 percent of deaths are caused by earthquakes, climate-related disasters now account for over 80 percent of all disaster events and contribute enormously to economic losses and short- and long-term population displacement. "It is very important that the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which opens on March 14, should provide clear, action-oriented guidance to governments, local governments, the private sector, and civil society in general on how best to tackle the underlying drivers of risk such as poverty, climate change, poorly planned urban growth, land use and the decline of protective ecosystems."

The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction is taking place March 14-18. Participants will work to chart a global course on disaster risk reduction for the coming decade.

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