The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) underlines that the Caribbean is particularly vulnerable towards climate related hazards and the projected impacts are expected to be devastating due to limited adaptive capacity of small islands and low-lying coastal states.
Over the past 30 years in the Caribbean, floods and tropical storm damage affected 1.5 million people directly and caused over USD 5 billion in damage. The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events stresses societies and natural systems.
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.
Explanation for the interpretation of loss data statistics
Number statistics and loss thresholds
Number statistics are influenced by a constantly improved reporting of small-scale loss events over the time (reporting bias). There is a need to distinguish between registered and relevant loss events.
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.
The absence of very severe catastrophes and a quiet hurricane season in the North Atlantic meant that losses from natural catastrophes in 2014 were much lower. At US$ 7bn, the most expensive event in terms of overall loss was Cyclone Hudhud in India. Around 7,700 people lost their lives in natural catastrophes.
The statistics for natural catastrophes for the first half of 2014 have been marked by pleasingly low levels of global claims. Overall economic losses of US$ 42bn and insured losses of US$ 17bn to the end of June were considerably below the average for the past ten years (US$ 95bn and US$ 25bn respectively). Thankfully, the number of deaths caused by natural catastrophes was also comparatively low. However, towards the end of the year the natural climate phenomenon El Niño may impact regions differently in terms of the number and intensity of weather extremes.
Flood events in 2013 highlight the positive effect of defence measures
Natural catastrophe losses in 2013 were dominated by floods. Detailed analyses have shown that protective measures can drastically reduce losses. For example, the June 2013 floods in Germany and neighbouring countries proved to be considerably less damaging than the flooding in the summer of 2002.
Exceptionally high losses from weather-related catastrophes in Europe and Supertyphoon Haiyan dominated the overall picture of natural catastrophes in 2013. Floods and hailstorms caused double-digit billion-dollar losses in central Europe, and in the Philippines one of the strongest cyclones in history, Supertyphoon Haiyan, resulted in a human catastrophe with over 6,000 fatalities.
Floods causing billions of dollars in losses dominate the natural catastrophe statistics for the first half-year 2013. Around 47% of the overall losses and 45% of the insured losses derived from inland flooding that occurred in Europe, Canada, Asia and Australia. Altogether, at around US$ 45bn, losses from natural catastrophes were below the average amount for the past ten years (US$ 85bn). Insured losses totalled approximately US$ 13bn (ten-year average: US$ 22bn).
This map shows the worldwide distribution of natural disasters that occurred in 2012, according to Munich Re, NatCatSERVICE.
With more than 25,000 entries, NatCatSERVICE is one of the leading global databases for natural catastrophes. Every year between 800 and 1,000 loss events are recorded and analysed. In view of the information collated, the extent and intensity of individual natural hazard events in various parts of the world can be documented and used to analyse regional and global hazards as well as trends.
Note: Map in 3 pages
Outcomes of the fifth UNU-EHS Summer Academy of the Munich Re Foundation Chair on Social Vulnerability
25 – 31 July 2010, Hohenkammer, Germany
This document has 2 pages