Nothing undermines development like a disaster 

As many least developed countries (LDCs) face an increasingly complex risk landscape, the impacts of disasters continue to undermine hard-won progress towards sustainable development. The devastating impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and the climate emergency demonstrate how the systemic nature of risk and the cascading impacts of disasters affect every facet of society and economies in the LDCs, from agricultural and industrial development, to human mobility and urbanization, as well as food security and the provision of basic services. For some LDCs, disaster risk is further compounded by protracted humanitarian crisis and conflict dynamics.  

Facts and Figures

  • Over 34 percent of crop and livestock production loss in LDCs is traced to drought, costing the sector USD 37 billion between 2008 and 2018. (FAO, 2021).
  • Floods are responsible for a total of USD 21 billion of the crop and livestock production loss 2008-2018 in LDCs - this amounts to 19 percent of total loss (FAO, 2021).
  • LDCs experienced 70 percent of the deaths caused by climate-related disasters over the last 50 years (Hydromet Gap Report, 2021).
  • In 2020, the LDCs reporting to the Sendai Framework Monitor accounted for 26% of people with livelihoods disrupted or destroyed by disasters, even though they account for just 14% of the world's population. Moreover, the LDCs reported 10% of the economic losses due to disasters, even though they account for just 1.3% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For many countries, loss and damage due to disasters may be the difference between graduating from or remaining in the LDC category.
  • More than 8.5 million people living in LDCs were displaced due to disasters in 2020 (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2021).

 

 

Climate related deaths

Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)

 

Special-Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction

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"Despite their commitment to disaster risk reduction, LDCs continue to be left behind due to the impacts of disasters"
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Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction
Call to action

To break the cycle of disaster, respond, recovery, and repeat, DRR must be embedded within national development strategies, sectoral budgets, and economic plans, including structural transformation and productive capacity development. Increased international support, including dedicated financing instruments, policy support, and capacity development are urgently needed.

  • Develop and strengthen national and local disaster risk reduction strategies that take a comprehensive approach to climate and disaster risk governance, and ensure policy and investment decisions in all sectors are aligned with these strategies.  
  • Adopt an approach to structural transformation that reduces rather than creates disaster risk, including reducing underlying economic, social, and environmental drivers of exposure and vulnerability. 
  • Integrate disaster risk reduction into all policies and strategies related to productive capacity development, including industrial and agricultural development, commodity diversification, and trade and supply chains to ensure they are resilient against current and future shocks and hazards, including the impacts of climate change. 
  • Resilient infrastructure is critical for sustainable productive capacity development and access to global markets. Invest in resilient infrastructure and ensure comprehensive risk assessment is a prerequisite for all investments in critical infrastructure, including digital and energy infrastructure, as well as housing and basic social services.  
  • Integrate disaster risk reduction into the smooth transition strategies of graduating countries to promote sustainability of development progress, including through the support provided by the Sustainable Graduation Support Facility. 
  • A radical scale-up in adaptation measures and a comprehensive approach to risk analysis and management covering a full range of hazards is required. Current capacity for risk analytics in the LDCs do not enable effective preventive and anticipatory action. 
  • Build capacity and provide technical support to all sectors to regularly conduct and update comprehensive climate and disaster risk assessments and apply the information in policy and investment decisions.  
  • Strengthen capacity for risk analytics among academia and the science and technology sector, including among young scientists and professionals.  
  • Invest in building systems to collect and analyze disaster loss data as well as technology and geographic information systems to collect and analyze multi-hazard disaster risk data, including enhanced transfer of technology to the LDCs. 
  • Invest in multi-hazard early warning systems that lead to early action and strengthen hydrometeorological services, including climate forecasting, to inform social protection measures.  
  • Focus on the communication of risk information in ways that can be easily understood by decision makers in the public and private sector as well as communities and households.  
  • Disaster related funding remains disproportionately focused on response and recovery. Only 50 cents of every $100 of international assistance related to disasters is invested in prevention and risk reduction. 
  • Bilateral donors, development banks and international financial situations to integrate disaster risk reduction into their assistance to the LDCs in all sectors and ensure their support is aligned with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies the Sendai Framework.  
  • Honour pledges to increase financing for climate change adaptation in the LDCs and ensure climate finance is risk-informed.  
  • Public finance mechanisms in the LDCs should be reviewed through ‘Risk-Sensitive Budget Reviews” and enhanced tagging and tracking of budgetary and expenditure flows to ensure investments in disaster and climate risk management across sectors, plans and budgets and in integrated national financing frameworks for sustainable development. 
  • Establish a pipeline of investable infrastructure projects that are disaster and climate resilient. 
  • LDCs account for a mere 1% of global trade and 1.4% percent of global foreign direct investment. Focus on de-risking investments in the LDCs and creating an enabling environment for investments in disaster risk reduction and resilience.  
  • Leverage partnership with the private sector should to co-develop innovative financial instruments targeted to the LDCs. 
  • Support small and medium enterprises to reduce risk across their operations and build resilience to disasters. 
DRR and LDCs on the global policy agenda

Much has changed since 2011, not least the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Today, there is a strong recognition that the impacts of disasters and increasing levels of disaster risk, exacerbated by the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, severely undermine progress towards sustainable development in the LDCs. There is also a greater appreciation of the need for a risk-informed approach to successfully implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, which is now reflected in the Secretary-General’s seminal report on “Our Common Agenda ”. Furthermore, in June 2021, the ECOSOC resolution on LDC graduation recognized the relevance of disaster risk and the impact of disasters for the LDC graduation process. The resolution calls for disaster risk reduction to be included in the smooth transition strategies of graduating countries and for greater support from development partners for disaster risk reduction and resilience in graduating countries

The Opportunity  

  • Implementation of the Doha Programme of Action must put all LDCs on the path to graduation from the category by 2030. Business as usual is not an option. Exposure and vulnerability to disasters are long-standing structural impediments to sustainable development in the LDCs. Now is the time for a truly risk-informed economic and development model for the LDCs. Reducing risk and building resilience is embedded within the Doha Programme of Action. Its implementation must go hand-in-hand with the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.  
  • The LDC-5 Conference and the Doha Programme of Action provide an unprecedented opportunity to chart a new course that can significantly reduce disaster losses in the LDCs. The adoption of the Programme of Action must spell the end for risk-blind planning and investing in the LDCs. This requires greater political commitment from the LDCs to integrate disaster risk reduction into economic and development planning. This commitment must be met with sustained and increased international development cooperation to support the means of implementation for disaster risk reduction and resilience in the LDCs.  
The Fifth United Nations Conference for the Least Developed Countries (LDC-5)

The Fifth United Nations Conference for the Least Developed Countries (LDC-5) will be hosted by the Government of Qatar in Doha. The LDC5 conference will be held in two parts. The first part will take place at the United Nations Headquater in New York on 17 March 2022. The main purpose of the programme is to adopt the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA). Member States and stakeholders will discuss the implementation of DPoA which outlines the development priorities of and international support for the LDCs over the next decade. The second part will take place in Doha from 5-9 March, 2023. This will be an in-person gathering where world leaders will gather with civil society, the private sector, young people and more to build new plans and partnerships for the delivery of the DPoA over the following decade.

The Programme of Action includes the following disaster risk reduction related targets and commitments:

  • Establishing national platforms and national strategies to implement the Sendai Framework; 
  • Strengthening multi-hazard early warning systems; 
  • Establishing a multi-hazard crises mitigation and resilience building mechanism for LDCs; 
  • Strengthening national statistical and planning capacity and inter-institutional coordination mechanisms for the collection, analysis and use of disaster risk and loss data; 
  • Adopting legislation, policies and standards for disaster risk reduction; 
  • Integrating disaster risk reduction into the LDC graduation process; and 
  • Enhancing funding for disaster risk reduction, including aligning public and private, domestic and international investment with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies, and incorporating impacts of disaster and climate risks into decisions taken by monetary and regulatory authorities. 
Internally displaced persons associated with disasters in least developed countries

More than 8.5 million people living in LDCs were displaced due to disasters in 2020.

Internally displaced persons

Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2021

DRR initiatives in Least Developed Countries