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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

23 November 2021


Excellency, Ms. Khadeeja Naseem, Minister of State of Environment, Climate Change and Technology of Maldives and Chair of the seventh session of the ESCAP Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction

Dr. M. Ravichandran, Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Earth Science and Chair of the RIMES Council

Excellencies, distinguished participants,

It is my great pleasure to join you at the 13th RIMES Council Meeting.

ESCAP appreciates the leadership of RIMES in addressing the unmet needs of multi-hazard early warning systems in low capacity, high-risk countries of Asia and the Pacific.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, countries are being hit by a range of disasters from climate-induced extreme weather events.

The recent devastating floods in Kerala, India, and tropical cyclone "Dianmu" that triggered large-scale flooding and landslides in Thailand are the two most recent examples.

Addressing these cascading hazards and disaster risks through enhanced regional cooperation efforts can help build the resilience of people and economies.

Distinguished participants,

Our Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2021 assesses the human and economic costs of the convergence of natural and biological hazards that are occurring along with climate change. 

The COVID-19 pandemic shows that countries across the globe are ill-prepared to deal with multiple, overlapping and cascading crises. Tropical cyclones, for example, can lead to floods, which leads to disease, which exacerbates poverty.

Specific hotspots of cascading risks were idenfied where people are at greatest risk from such overlaps and highlights the vulnerabilities of marginal groups.

It is estimated that if we do nothing, then under the worst-case climate change scenario, annual economic losses could rise to $1.3 trillion, or 4.2 per cent of the region’s GDP.  The losses are disproportionately higher for SIDS and LDCs.

Finally, it is estimated that annual adaptation costs under the same worst-case climate scenario could amount to $270 billion, equivalent to 0.85 per cent of regional GDP, significantly less than the estimated annual economic losses of 4.2 per cent of regional GDP.

Distinguished participants,

In multiple Voluntary National Reviews, Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans, disasters have featured prominently. The current pandemic only adds to the urgency of addressing this issue.

I’m pleased to note that even before the pandemic, RIMES and ESCAP were working together to address multi-hazard disaster risks. Recognizing our joint efforts, in August, the ESCAP Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction recommended a scale-up of regional and subregional cooperation strategies that integrate climate-related disasters as well as associated health perspectives as a complement to national efforts.

Our continued collaboration with RIMES will ensure that the processes linked to the larger sustainable development goals keep a focus on building disaster and climate resilience.  

The capacity for managing disasters and public health emergencies to respond to these converging risks is key to recover from the COVID-19 and prepare better for the climate crisis.

As a key partner in implementing ESCAP’s work on building climate resilience, I look forward to further strengthening our collaboration as we build a post-pandemic climate resilient recovery that leaves no one behind.       

Thank you for your attention. I wish you a very successful event.

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