Foreword by Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction
In 2020, humanity truly learned what happens when risk is ignored. COVID-19 changed our lives, our expectations, relationships, work prospects, livelihoods – in some instances, irreversibly. But whilst COVID-19 may have grabbed more headline space than any other disaster, it is not the biggest threat facing us.
The climate emergency has continued unabated: in 2020 global warming reached the same all-time high as 2016. Climate-fuelled disasters, earthquakes, fires, tsunamis and other natural and manmade hazards hit countries and communities already suffering the effects of COVID-19. It is no surprise therefore that 2020 set new records for the numbers of people requiring humanitarian aid and support.
The cost-benefits of investing in prevention, in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation have never been clearer, or more urgent. Climate change is driving increased risk across all countries, and disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic have shown how unpredictable hazards can have devastating cascading impacts on all sectors, with long-lasting, debilitating socio-economic consequences.
Out of crisis comes opportunity. UNDRR had to pivot immediately. I take enormous pride in the motivation and dedication of our staff around the world who have overcome the constraints and challenges of remote working to deliver to a high standard as demonstrated by the results and achievements outlined in this Annual Report.