ICSU/IRDR SDG Process Representative
2 March 2014
Disasters have three key impacts on global sustainable development.
First, catastrophic disaster events have a concentrated impact undoing development gains for affected regions and households, large events of this kind are increasing with environmental change, increasing population and asset density in places at risk – as we have seen in the Indian Ocean Tsunami and great Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, floods in Thailand and Bangladesh, storms in the Philippines, Central America and US (New York and New Orleans).
Second, more widespread erosive and dampening effects on the life quality of the poor come from the everyday losses associated with low-level hazards.
Third, the potential of cascading events magnifying impact which itself may be amplified through speculation in global commodity markets and limits to global reinsurance invites the potential of regional or global calamity. We have seen indicators of this through food security crises across Asia and Africa stimulated by failed harvests in Australia and global gain speculation, and in share price volatility following storm events in London and New York, regional economic impacts have been felt following flooding in Thailand and earthquakes in Japan.
The SDG OWG7 was clear in highlighting the centrality of improved disaster risk reduction and response if any proposed SDGs are to be met. The OWG7 sense was one of moving towards a number of integrated targets across any proposed set of Sustainable Development Goals. We agree with this position but feel that the present proposed targets and associated indicator suggestions do not yet properly capture the critical points where disaster risk reduction and response/recovery might be included to help enhance individual goals and move towards sustainable development.
Understanding the need for clear and positive indicators that can be realistically supplied with information our detailed suggestions for each focus area are summarised below.