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Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery

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Over the last decade, the frequency, magnitude and impact of natural and man-made adverse events have been on the rise. Risk has become increasingly systemic and multi-dimensional, therefore, integrating risk reduction into development will need to consider multiple and intersecting threats. Risks associated with natural hazards are often overlaid by epidemics, conflict, or economic shocks which can interact and manifest as crises with cascading effects across sectors.

While hazards and threats can undermine development achievements, also decisions on development trajectories and investments can generate risks. This is the case when risks accumulate in urban areas due to rapid and unplanned developments; when excessive strain is placed on natural resources and ecosystems; or when social inequalities for some population groups are exacerbated, often resulting in conflict. All of this undermines progress towards achieving the sustainable development objectives.

The increasing exposure of people, assets and livelihoods to natural hazards and expanding socio-economic vulnerabilities is outpacing risk reduction efforts. Infrastructure, economic activities and urbanization are expanding into areas exposed to natural hazards at a faster pace than ever. Climate change, weak risk governance, human migration, environmental degradation, inequality, violence and conflict are drivers that exacerbate disaster risk even further. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic, with its widespread health and socio-economic impacts reverberating long into the future, has set back development gains in many countries and affected our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These factors are increasingly interconnected and mutually reinforce each other with cascading effects through entire systems.

Addressing systemic, multi-dimensional risk and underlying risk drivers requires a holistic, cross-cutting approach. It is a logical and important course of action for a development organization such as UNDP to help countries build the resilience of societies, systems and development assets in view of advancing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement, the Agenda for Humanity and the SDGs.

With an operational presence in nearly 170 countries, UNDP offers more than two decades of experience anchored in risk management, resilience building and governance with a systems approach supporting the mainstreaming of climate and disaster risk understanding into development planning and budgeting.

UNDP’s approach to risk-informed development is an organization-wide effort that is deeply rooted in risk governance, systems thinking, area-based approaches, agile and dynamic processes, risk management and context-specific solutions. It integrates risks related to natural hazards, climate change, biological hazards, conflict, fragility, economic shocks and other shocks and stressors. By working with governments and partners towards risk-informing national, local and sectoral development planning processes, UNDP reduces levels of vulnerability and hazard exposure, and thus contributes to prevention and resilience-building.