In the last decade, low- and middle-income countries have experienced 53 percent of all disasters globally—but have accounted for 93 percent of disaster-related fatalities.1 This disproportionate impact stems in large part from unsafe and unregulated urban development. According to the 2015 Global Assessment Report (UNISDR), the future expected annual losses in the built environment resulting from disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and flooding are expected to rise from roughly USD 300 billion to USD 415 billion by 2030.2 Often, such disaster events disproportionately impact poor and marginalized populations living in unsafe buildings and areas exposed to natural hazards – with hazard frequency and severity likely to increase in the future.
The world—and the developing world in particular—is embarking on a major urban development boom, a trend that makes safe and regulated building practices all the more crucial. Currently, more than 50 percent of the global population is urban, and by 2050, this share is expected to rise to 66 percent. Some 90 percent of this growth is expected in Africa and Asia,3 while in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, urban development is expected to attract major capital investment. By 2050, 1 billion new dwelling units will be required to house the world’s growing population.4 But most of this growth is expected to occur in cities with weak capacity to ensure risk-sensitive development and construction, and will take place as weather-related hazards become more frequent and intense.