- Documents and publications
Natural hazards, unnatural disasters: the economics of effective prevention
This report focuses on preventing death and destruction from "natural" disasters, and concludes that governments can appreciably increase prevention. It looks at disasters primarily through an economic lens and shows that growing cities will increase exposure to hazards, but that vulnerability will not rise if cities are better managed. The adjective “UnNatural” in the title of the report conveys the following key message: earthquakes, droughts, floods, and storms are natural hazards, but the unnatural disasters are deaths and damages that result from human acts of omission and commission.
The four main findings of the report are: (i) a disaster exposes the cumulative implications of many earlier decisions, some taken individually, others collectively, and a few by default; (ii) prevention is often possible and cost-effective; (iii) many measures—private and public—must work well together for effective prevention; and (iv) the exposure to hazards will rise in cities, but greater exposure need not increase vulnerability.