‘Build back better’ to mitigate climate risks

2 Oct 18

Countries hit by extreme weather events must ‘build back better’ to ensure their recovery and reconstruction efforts are resilient to future shocks, PF International has been told.

Following the storms that swept across the US and Asia, Emily Wilkinson, senior research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, said countries affected by such events should invest in better mitigation infrastructure.

“Critically, there are opportunities in post-disaster recovery to build things back differently.”

The phrase ‘building back better’ is used by development agencies across the world. Wilkinson said it reflects the opportunity to ensure reconstruction is fit for long-term recovery.

“A lot more needs to be done to mitigate and reduce the risks before disasters happen,” she told PF International.

Wilkinson said ODI research [see below] has found that the majority of development assistance for natural disasters goes to emergency response (65.5%), while only 12.8% goes to disaster risk reduction, such as flood prevention.

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According to the World Bank, the benefits of ‘building back better’ could save countries globally up to $173bn a year.

Some countries have budget reserves for disasters.

Mexico’s FONDEN fund maintains a reserve of $1bn, the equivalent of 0.13% of gross national income.

Japan also holds reserves of 350bn Japanese yen ($3.12bn) – 0.36% of the budget.

But these reserves typically do not cover unexpected events and are based on the annual average needed for disaster recovery.

Mexico, for example, has additional insurance that covers $400m, but if a disaster inflicts more damage it has no finance for recovery.

Last year’s record tropical storms left many already indebted small states looking for finance to recover and relying heavily on aid.

Wilkinson noted these countries “tend to get into more debt” trying to recover.
 
 
Storm warning
Recent extreme weather shows why it is vital to reduce risks before disaster strikes
Tsunami Palu: The Indonesian island region of Sulawesi was shook by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on Friday, which has left at least 1,200 dead.
Typhoon Jebi: Japan was hit by the most powerful typhoon in 25 years at the beginning of September. More than a million people were forced to evacuate, and major airports were flooded by heavy rains and high sea levels. At least 11 people died.
Hurricane Florence: Extreme winds passed through North and South Carolina in September, leaving more than 343,000 people without power and killing at least 37 people. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that it would provide disaster aid to people in 18 affected counties.
Typhoon Mangkhut: One of the most powerful storms to hit Asia in decades made its way from the Philippines to Hong Kong and to China in September. Public services were closed, flights cancelled, and buildings torn apart. It is estimated that at least 80 people were killed.
Record costs for US: Atlantic hurricane season 2017 was the most expensive hurricane season across the US Atlantic region, racking up $202.6bn in damages. The season delivered 17 storms, including Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Worldwide, storms caused $369.6bn of damage, making 2017 the second-most costly year since 1960.

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