Investing in prevention saves money and life – World Disasters Report 2016

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched its World Disasters Report 2016 at the United Nations offices in Vienna.

The key message was clear: investing in prevention saves money and life in the long term. There still seems to be a major focus on financial aid after a disaster has happened, with much less attention given to funding prevention measures. To help to counter this situation, IFRC’s report focuses on “resilience”.

During the launch, the high level panel stated clearly that a business-as-usual approach is not an option when responding to disasters in future. The benefits of planning with resilience in mind are clear, and we are now more knowledgeable about how to measure progress and showcase evidence.

Invest in prevention to avoid disaster

I foresee a clear shift towards long-term disaster risk reduction options, including scenario planning and examining future perspectives up to 2025 and even further. Our recent Foresight workshop links closely with the sentiments of the World Disasters Report. We need to take into account the long-term trends of increased risks from climate change, urbanisation and demographic development when considering resilience planning, along with learning from our own experience and that of other practitioners. As resilience is a people-centred concept, influencing individual behaviour is also a key component of success.

The recent earthquake in New Zealand and the subsequent tsunami provide a sound evidence-base to demonstrate that good preparation can avoid an event becoming a disaster in terms of lives lost and damage caused.

Resilience is also a key principle in the three main global agreements: Paris, Sendai and the Sustainable Development Goals: it is also viewed as a critical factor in development planning and forecast-based financing.