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Why Disaster Preparedness Cannot Wait

Summary:
As countries emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic over the coming year, world leaders will face a defining moment. By ramping up investments in disaster preparedness, they can shape their legacies and set humanity on a safer course for the next decade and beyond. GENEVA/WASHINGTON, DC – The world has been planning for the future in the mistaken belief that it will resemble the past. But as COVID-19 coincides with cyclones in South Asia and the Pacific and vast locust swarms in East Africa, the need to prepare for a world of unexpected shocks has become clearer than ever. Epidemics, floods, storms, droughts, and wildfires are all expected to become more frequent and severe, affecting hundreds of millions of people each

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As countries emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic over the coming year, world leaders will face a defining moment. By ramping up investments in disaster preparedness, they can shape their legacies and set humanity on a safer course for the next decade and beyond.

GENEVA/WASHINGTON, DC – The world has been planning for the future in the mistaken belief that it will resemble the past. But as COVID-19 coincides with cyclones in South Asia and the Pacific and vast locust swarms in East Africa, the need to prepare for a world of unexpected shocks has become clearer than ever. Epidemics, floods, storms, droughts, and wildfires are all expected to become more frequent and severe, affecting hundreds of millions of people each year.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global wake-up call. And as leaders of international organizations, we understand both the grave threat and the potential opportunity for change that it represents.

In particular, COVID-19 and recent climate disasters have shown that we must step up investment in preparedness now, instead of waiting for the next crisis to hit. The choice is clear: delay and pay, or plan and prosper.

We know that investing in disaster preparedness is worth it – both in terms of human lives saved and economic returns. Research by the Global Commission on Adaptation, for example, shows that benefit-to-cost ratios for climate-adaptation investments range from 2:1 to 10:1.

To be sure, preparing for major shocks involves substantial outlays. Building resilience to climate impacts could cost $140-300 billion annually by 2030, while meeting World Health Organization minimum standards for pandemic preparedness will require up to $3.4 billion per year

But these sums are small compared to the costs of not being prepared. Natural disasters already cost

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