Over the last ten years natural disasters affected more than 2.4 billion people—the equivalent of one-third of the earth’s population—and they have wrought over$910 billion in damages—equivalent to approximately 18 percent of global GDP.
Natural disasters affect not only individuals and communities but also economies, governments and the international system. The 373 natural disasters recorded by the International Disaster Database EM-DAT in 2010 affected some 300 million people from all regions: 300 000 lost their lives and many more suffered injuries, family separation and other trauma. Sudden-onset disasters displaced 42 million people from their homes and caused $108.5 billion in economic losses. Ninety-two per cent of the disasters in 2010 were climate-related.
The number of disasters has increased in recent decades—from about 100 to 150 a year in the early 1980’s to an annual average of 392 during the 2000 to 2009 decade.