International Day for Disaster Reduction: Addressing the rising cost of disasters

Reducing the economic loss from disasters was the focus of this year's International Day for Disaster Reduction.

The human cost of disasters and related impacts on resilience was the focus of discussions in Adelaide to mark the United Nations (UN) International Day for Disaster Reduction on 13 October.

Hosted by AIDR’s partner, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), the free public forum on 12 October was attended by over 60 people; bringing together perspectives from academia, critical infrastructure, government and agencies.

The theme of this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction was Reducing Economic Loss from Disasters. The central message addressed the dramatic rise of 151 per cent of direct economic losses from climate-related disasters observed over the last 20 years.

The theme of the day was drawn from the Sendai Seven Campaign – 7 Targets, 7 Years, which in 2018 aims to reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product by 2030.

Active efforts are underway to track the data on economic losses due to disasters, to better understand their impact and to put higher standards in place for construction in seismic zones. With climate change increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, the UN stated that it is critical these disaster risks outweigh the economic incentives to develop in hazard-prone locations.

These issues and more were up for discussion at the International Day for Disaster Reduction event in Adelaide. The forum addressed the economic challenges we face in preparing and responding to disasters; what can be done today to reduce the costs of tomorrow; and what changes are needed in policies and practices on a national, state and local level.

The panel was facilitated by Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Research Director Dr John Bates and featured:

  • Malcolm Jackman, South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM)
  • Jillian Edwards, Resilience Taskforce, Department of Home Affairs
  • A/Prof Alan March, CRC project leader, University of Melbourne
  • Frank Crisci, SA Power Networks
  • Peta O’Donohue, South Australian Country Fire Service 

The event was held in partnership with SAFECOM and the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, with support from the Department of Home Affairs and SA Water.