Multiple-hazards and systemic risk: Addressing climate-related disasters in times of COVID-19

Multiple-hazards and systemic risk: Addressing climate-related disasters in times of COVID-19

As the Global Risk Assessment Report (GAR2019) has highlighted, the nature and scale of risk has changed. In our increasingly complex inter-connected world risk has become systemic, challenging governance mechanisms of established risk management institutions and single-hazard approaches. As an example of the above, the systemic nature of the COVID-19 disaster and its unprecedented cascading effects has impacted all sectors and levels, in all countries of the Americas and the Caribbean region.

The current effort on fighting COVID-19 cannot conceal the fact that climatic and geological hazards affect Latin-America and the Caribbean every year. At a time when countries of the region are actively responding to the pandemic, they also need to prepare for and implement actions to mitigate the potential impacts of other recurrent hazards. For instance, countries like Guatemala and El Salvador have been recently hit by tropical storm Amanda and, as the Caribbean region faces its annual hurricane season, countries are enhancing climate-hazard preparedness. Many countries are bracing for a two-tier crisis as they grapple with complicated logistics, limited resources and scant supplies.

As we start to think in going back to a new normal, it is important that national governments and inter-governmental political and financial institutions consider the negative effects that the pandemic has on the vulnerability of populations and economic systems and their exposure to other latent and recurrent hazards.

This brief has been developed from inputs of the webinar Multiple-hazards and systemic risk: Addressing climate-related disasters in times of COVID-19, organized by UNDRR on May 25th. It focuses on how the region can respond and recover from COVID-19 while facing the threats of climate-related and other hazards. Thus, analyzing the challenges and offering policy guidance, this brief seeks to contribute to the thinking that could shape the recovery pathway. The region needs to adopt a broader and deeper understanding of systemic risks and their interaction with climate change, poverty, inequality and other structural challenges. This understanding shall lead to rethinking how we govern systemic risks.

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