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Fast Facts: Building Resilience to Climate Change and Disaster Risk

Sep 26, 2013

The Philippines is one of the most at risk countries in the world for natural disasters. Comprised of over 7000 islands, situated on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and in the Pacific typhoon belt, the country ranks second in the world in annual risk to people from earthquakes and cyclones. It experienced 270 natural disaster events in the past two decades – more than any other country in the world.

Major events like Tropical Storm Sendong (2011, international: Washi) command worldwide attention for the sheer scale of their impacts. Yet, smaller events, often unreported, may be just as destructive in aggregate. The consistent threat of disruptive disasters discourages investment, and negatively affects progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and improved
human development. Poor and marginalized communities, which depend most on services provided by natural systems, are disproportionately affected. While embedded communal knowledge and national support for disaster risk reduction have helped them weather many disasters, the balance between coping and catastrophe is a precarious one.

Climate change poses a grave threat to this balance. Changes in weather patterns are resulting in more intense and more frequent disasters that strike in more areas. Already, typhoons are hitting parts of the country that have historically been shielded, while floods and droughts have affected food production. Communities must continue to draw on lessons from past planning and recovery work, but they also need to prepare for longer-term, more gradual changes to their support systems and environment. For these communities, adapting to climate change is a vital part of reducing long-term disaster risk and becoming more resilient.

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