Building Resilience to Natural Disasters and Major Economic Crises in South Asia

We are pleased to announce that alongside the Summit’s proceedings on Day II (3rd September), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) will conduct a Policy Dialogue on ‘Building Resilience to Natural Disasters and Major Economic Crises

South Asia has been battered in recent years by a relentless series of shocks linked to natural disasters and economic crises.  The region is particularly vulnerable to disasters caused by natural hazards, with recurring floods, drought, earthquakes and landslides causing loss of life and widespread damage.  For example, in Pakistan the estimated damage resulting from the 2010 floods was close to $10 billion. The region has also been hard hit by economic shocks, such as the 2008 financial crisis, and convulsions in global markets that led to rocketing food and energy prices. The traditional approach has been to consider such events individually, however this is increasingly unrealistic.  Today, natural disasters and economic crises are increasingly interlinked, giving rise to complex combinations of risk. Governments across South Asia often find themselves dealing with overlapping shocks that demand a more comprehensive and systemic approach to building resilience. Resilience in this sense means the capacity of countries to withstand, adapt to, and recover from natural disasters and major economic crises – so that their people can continue to lead the kind of life they value.

Image copyright ESCAP, 2013.

Image copyright ESCAP, 2013.

For many policymakers in South Asia this is new territory: they are more accustomed to focusing on problems in particular economic or social sectors rather than treating them as systemic wholes. Even more difficult, they have to take decisive action now about events that may or may not take place in the future. By definition, this is a step into the unknown. On the whole, human beings are not very good at assessing risks and uncertainties. This report provides a comprehensive response to addressing multiple shocks in South Asia and the wider Asia-Pacific region. It shows how people, organizations, institutions and policymakers can work together to weave resilience into economic, social and environmental policies.

To view or download the report, click the link below: