Natural hazards cause massive human suffering and adversely affecting the realisation of sustainable development. These hazards have increased in frequency and their adverse impact on human progress has intensified, as recently exemplified in 2017 by hurricanes that tore across the Caribbean, earthquakes in Central Mexico and at the Iran- Iraq border, the plague outbreak in Madagascar and historical floods in India and Bangladesh. In the first half of 2017, 149 natural disasters occurred in 73 countries resulting in 3,162 deaths, affecting 80 million people and resulting in the estimated loss of US$32.4 billion.
Despite very encouraging advances in disaster risk management capacity over the last several decades, experience shows that no country can assume that it will never need international assistance to meet urgent humanitarian needs. This is true even of the wealthiest and best prepared countries, as evidenced by the experience of Japan after the Fukushima disaster and the United States after Hurricane Katrina. While the main focus should always be on building resilience and preparedness at the local and national level, basic preparedness for international cooperation should also be considered essential.