A number of devastating earthquakes and powerful storms made 2016 the costliest twelve months for natural catastrophe losses in the last four years. Losses totalled US$ 175bn, a good two-thirds more than in the previous year, and very nearly as high as the figure for 2012 (US$ 180bn). The share of uninsured losses – the so-called protection or insurance gap – remained substantial at around 70%. Almost 30% of the losses, some US$ 50bn, were insured.
Losses from natural catastrophes in 2015 were again lower than in the previous year. The natural climate phenomenon El Niño reduced hurricane activity in the North Atlantic, while it brought major floods and heatwaves to many developing and emerging countries. The deadliest catastrophe, and also the costliest in terms of overall losses, was the Nepal earthquake in April, where some 9,000 people lost their lives and overall losses totalled US$ 4.8bn.
The review on the natural catastrophes for the first half of 2015 was characterised by the earthquake in Nepal and by the heatwave that affected India and Pakistan. Some 12,000 people fell victim to these two natural catastrophes. In the first half of the year, a total of over 16,000 people died in severe weather events and earthquakes.
UNU-EHS Working Paper Series, No. 09
As a home to important flora and fauna, with rich cultural roots and heritage, island communities are often characterized by their deep social ties with the natural environment.
However, due to environmental degradation, impacts from climate change including slow (e.g. sea level rise) and sudden (e.g. hurricanes) onset events and the associated changes to livelihood structures and opportunities, islands throughout the world face increasing threats.