How to meet a disaster
May 25, 2023


  • The G20 countries, with a population of 4.7 billion, have large exposure, risk from asset concentration, and vulnerability to natural disasters.
  • In the current World Risk Index, four out of the top 10 vulnerable countries are G20 nations.

Importance of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Mechanisms

  • To Prevent Huge Losses: The combined estimated annual average loss in the G20 countries alone is $218 billion, equivalent to 9% of the average annual investment in infrastructure made by them. DRR measures can play an important role in preventing such losses.
  • To Realise Economic Ambitions: Disasters can set back development gains. Hence, risk reduction is an important strategy if a country’s economic ambitions are to be realised. 

How can “Risk Reduction” be Achieved?

  • Reducing risk can be achieved mainly by reducing vulnerability and exposure to risk through measures such as:
    • Better economic and urban development choices and practices.
    • Protection of the environment.
    • Reduction of poverty and inequality, etc.
    • Setting up early warning systems.
    • Undertaking periodic risk assessment.
    • Constructing disaster-resilient infrastructure.
  • For example, in India, effective implementation of flood risk management strategies can help in reducing and managing extreme weather conditions.

India's Efforts Towards Reducing Risk Under its G20 Presidency

  • India has highlighted the importance of DRR by initiating a new workstream in G20.
  • Five priorities have been outlined in the first meeting of the working group.
    • Coverage of early warning systems to all,
    • Focus on disaster and climate-resilient infrastructure,
    • Improving financing frameworks for national DRR,
    • Improving systems and capabilities for response to disasters and,
    • Application of ecosystem-based approaches to disaster risk.
  • India has endorsed a new working group on DRR- Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRRWG)that has recognised the importance of prioritising disaster risk financing.

What should be G20’s Future Programme in Risk Reduction Management?

  • Re-imagining financing DRR
    • The financing requirements flowing through government budgets are
    • Innovative financing tools including creating reserve funds, dedicated lines of credit and tapping resources globally should be explored.
    • Infrastructure, such as roads, rails, airports, and electricity lines created through public revenues need to be resilient to disasters and may require more funds incrementally.
    • There is a need to finance this additionality using options that are reflective of the social benefits of such disaster-resilient infrastructure.
  • Targeted approaches to reducing losses from extensive risk events
    • A large portion of the losses occur due to extensive events such as heatwaves, lightning, local floods, and landslides.
    • Implementing targeted approaches to reducing losses from extensive risk events, can have an impact in the short to medium-term horizon.
  • Convergence of DRR and climate change adaptation efforts
    • The development of analytical and implementation capacities for DRR will help climate change adaptation efforts as well.
    • For example, building flood-management structures under DRR strategies will have synergies with adaptation efforts.
    • Similarly, the effectiveness of adaptation measures should be measured against their DRR potential.
  • Access to early warning systems
    • It should be treated as global public goods, with all populations irrespective of their economic strength, having reliable access to systems such as cyclone early warning.
    • The UN Secretary General’s initiative on ‘Early warning for all’ should be the guiding principle.
    • The G20 can show the way by setting up a suitable mechanism to ensure that the call for a universal early warning system is implemented in practice.
  • Treat DRR as a multi-tiered, multi-sectoral effort
    • If efforts are integrated vertically from local to sub-national to national to global, and horizontally across sectors, the level of readiness to manage unknown risks may be high.
    • The world is interlinked and interdependent, and the G20 can help develop such strategy.

 Some other Initiatives on National and International Level

  • Sendai Framework 2015
    • It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR).
    • It advocates for the substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods, and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural, and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities, and countries.
    • The Sendai Framework works hand in hand with the other 2030 Agenda agreements, including The Paris Agreement on Climate Change, The Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, the New Urban Agenda, and ultimately the SDGs.
  • The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)
    • CDRI was launched by the Indian Prime Minister at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit.
    • It is an international coalition of countries, UN agencies, multilateral development banks, the private sector, and academic institutions, that aims to promote disaster-resilient infrastructure. 
    • CDRI's initial focus is on developing disaster-resilience in ecological, social, and economic infrastructure.
    • Its objective is to promote research and knowledge sharing in the fields of infrastructure risk management, standards, financing, and recovery mechanisms. 
    • It aims to achieve substantial changes in member countries' policy frameworks and future infrastructure investments.
  • Global Platform for DRR 2022:
    • Its theme was “From Risk to Resilience: Towards Sustainable Development for All in a Covid-19 Transformed World.”
    • The outcome was summarised in the Bali Agenda for Resilience focusing on the need for a whole-of-society approach and human rights-based approach in DRR planning and implementation.

Importance of G20’s efforts in the implementation of the Sendai Framework

  • The G20 provides a broader platform to drive global goals on DRR. The perspectives that G20 as a group will bring to the table would be unique.
    • For example, any talk about risk financing will not be merely about additional financial resources, it will also include more efficient, effective, and predictable financing mechanisms.
  • The G20 can maximise the impact of the financial resources available from multiple sources such as governments, multilateral institutions, capital markets, insurance companies and philanthropies and communities.

Conclusion: The G20 under India’s Presidency makes it well-positioned to prioritise disaster risk financing to achieve the targets set by the Sendai Framework for 2030.