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World’s annual disaster losses pass $US250 billion

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Annual economic losses from global disasters have reached $US250-$US300 billion ($329-$460 billion), according to a new United Nations study.

At the launch of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned increasing exposure to natural hazards threatens to drive risk to dangerous and unpredictable levels.

“We are playing with fire,” he said. “There is a very real possibility that disaster risk, fuelled by climate change, will reach a tipping point beyond which the effort and resources necessary to reduce it will exceed the capacity of future generations.”

The report estimates investing $US6 billion ($7.89 billion) a year in disaster risk management would avoid losses of $US360 billion ($473.16 billion) over the next 15 years.

It says most governments are too focused on managing disasters, rather than tackling risk drivers such as poverty, climate change, poor urban planning and land use, and lack of building codes.