Authorities are focusing on new technologies to prepare for and respond to natural disasters in Asia Pacific that are becoming more intense, uncertain and complex, according to a UN report released Thursday (22 August).

Recent cyclones, floods and droughts in the region, as well as disasters triggered by rising global temperatures, have not followed past patterns, making them harder to forecast, said the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2019 produced by the UN’s Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

“The report shows that more of today’s events are linked to environmental degradation and climate change. This is generating disasters of increasing complexity and uncertainty,” UN Under-Secretary-General and executive secretary of ESCAP Armida Alisjahbana, said.

“Disasters are a major risk in this region and this report shows that, with the addition of climate change, we are running out of time to reduce that risk.”

— Michael Boyland, Research Associate at SEI Asia, interview with SciDev.Net

Asia Pacific is particularly vulnerable to disasters, with more fatalities, more people affected and larger economic losses than the rest of the world. Between 1970 and 2018, the region, with 60 per cent of the global population, had 87 per cent of the people affected by disasters.