World Bank braces for climate change in Asia-Pacific

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New models of cooperation between Asian countries are needed to deal with climate change and natural disasters, the World Bank said in a press release.

 

Later this year, the bank will sign a memorandum of understanding with the South Korean government on strengthening cooperation and sharing expertise in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation among Asian nations, the bank announced Tuesday at the fourth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

 

In 2009, World Bank data showed that six of the 10 countries with the highest losses from natural disasters were in the Asia Pacific region. Vietnam was among those hit the hardest.

 

Figures from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies revealed that 82 percent of all disaster-related deaths since 1997 occurred in the same region --predominantly among the poorer countries.

 

Low income countries carry about one-eighth the risk of global tropical cyclones but sustain four-fifths of the mortality risk, the release gave an example.

 

As the region accounts for 85 percent of all disaster victims worldwide, the release attributed the losses to the region's unprecedented rate of urbanization, weak institutional arrangements, lack of proper risk monitoring and disaster preparedness, combined with increasing seismic and climatic events.

 

"Responding to this challenge will require new models of cooperation and coordinated policy responses across multiple sectors, agencies and ministries, and a new set of policy instruments for decision-making under deep uncertainty," John Roome, World Bank Sector Director for Sustainable Development in the East Asia and Pacific region (EAP) was quoted as saying in the release.

 

"The development choices we make today will impact the outcomes of disasters tomorrow, whether it is safer schools and roads, better land use planning or financial planning and improved policy frameworks," Roome said. "We can take action today that will reduce loss of life and economic assets tomorrow."

  

New research by the Bank showed that adapting to a world which will be around two degrees Celsius warmer by 2050 will cost between US$75-100 billion a year - of which Asia-Pacific's share is highest.

 

A lot of this investment will be needed to improve infrastructure such as drainage and public buildings, coastal zones, water supply and flood protection.

 

The World Bank said it's hoping to see concrete results from the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference this December in Cancun.

 

It is working with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and client countries, including in East Asia-Pacific, towards supporting an eventual global deal and enabling action on the ground.

 

The World Bank has invested around US$1.5 billion in its Disaster Risk Management (DRM) portfolio in East Asia and the Pacific. New initiatives include Climate Change Development Policy Loans to Vietnam and Indonesia, risk modeling for the Mekong Delta and a proposed Catastrophe Risk Financing framework for the Pacific islands.

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