Large 2012 disaster toll highlights need for better preparedness

Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters inflicted the third-highest recorded insurance claims for a single year in 2012, confirming the need to better prepare communities for such emergencies, according to Green Cross International (GCI).

Swiss Re (the Swiss Reinsurance Company) published its latest sigma study on 27 March, recording that 318 catastrophic events occurred during 2012, of which 168 were natural catastrophes and 150 were man-made disasters, such as industrial and technological accidents.

Combined, these events killed approximately 14,000 people and caused US$186 billion in economic losses. Insurance claims of US$77 billion were also reached, the third-highest figure recorded by Swiss Re since it started conducting its studies in 1970.

“The Swiss Re study confirms that much stronger efforts are needed to help communities prepare for human-induced disasters, such as industrial accidents. GCI is inviting all partners, including industrial and insurance companies to join forces in this important area,” said Dr Vladimir Sakharov, Director of Green Cross International’s Environmental Emergency Preparedness (EEP) Programme.

Green Cross International launched its new EEP Programme in 2012 during the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The programme aims to reduce deaths and human suffering from industrial accidents, and decrease disaster-related environmental and economic losses, through improved risk management and comprehensive preparedness measures at local level.

The programme focuses on local authorities and communities living near industrial sites in developing countries.

In close cooperation with UNEP/APELL and other partners, GCI is designing projects to help local authorities improve how they deal with industrial disaster management. This is done by establishing local mechanisms and processes for identifying, assessing, preventing and preparing for potential industrial accidents. EEP’s first projects are expected to be carried out in Ivory Coast and the Philippines.

GCI, founded in 1993 by President Mikhail Gorbachev, is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization working to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva and has a network of national organizations in around 30 countries.

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