UN Office for Outer Space Affairs and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launch 2015 World Disasters Report

VIENNA, 5 October (UN Information Service) – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Norwegian Embassy and the Austrian Red Cross today launched the 2015 World Disasters Report at the Vienna International Centre, Austria. The World Disasters Report is an annual publication commissioned by the IFRC which highlights the challenges, trends and innovations in disaster risk reduction and crisis management using evidence-based research.

The 2015 World Disasters Report examines the complexities and challenges local actors face in scaling-up and sustaining their humanitarian response. It presents the case for a shift towards the “localization” of aid and more equal partnerships between international and local actors. This includes increasing humanitarian financing to reflect the effectiveness of local or national humanitarian organizations.

Speaking during the event, Werner Kerschbaum, Secretary General of the Austrian Red Cross, said: “Local actors are always the first to respond. They are effective because of their perspective and understanding of the local context. However, funding patterns are not keeping pace with this evidence. Therefore we need a shift in funding emphasis to grow humanitarian action nationally, regionally and locally.

Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of UNOOSA, said: “I believe that good data and adapted information organized in relevant messages, such as this World Disasters Report, is essential to reduce the vulnerability of populations to disaster and to environmental degradation. It is the role of the data providers, including those providing space-based data, to make sure that clear, precise, relevant and timely messages are communicated. We need to find mechanisms to “upload” knowledge from local actors to improve the quality of our outputs.”

The report is expected to make a key contribution to the World Humanitarian Summit, taking place in Istanbul in May 2016, which has the ‘localization of aid’ as a key area of focus.

For more information regarding the 2015 World Disaster Report please visit:

Background: 2014 disaster data

– 317 natural disasters were reported worldwide in 2014, affecting 94 countries, according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). The number of natural disasters was the lowest of the decade, 17 per cent below the average.

–  Almost 107 million people are estimated to have been affected by disasters in 2014, a relative increase on the previous year. There is little doubt that climate change will lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of hazards and the number of people exposed to them.

– In 2014, disasters caused 8,186 deaths worldwide. Nevertheless, the mortality level was almost 90 per cent lower than the decade average. 2014 was also the year with the lowest mortality rate since 1986 (7,303). On the other hand, the death toll of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (8,600) is higher than the total mortality rate of all natural disasters in 2014.

–  48 per cent of all disasters in 2014 occurred in Asia. Over 85 per cent of those killed and 86 per cent of those affected globally were also in Asia. The higher attribution of deaths in Asia comes in a year, which also saw a lower mortality rate in the Americas where 8 per cent were killed in disasters compared to the 25 per cent average.

– China was the most disaster-affected country, with drought, storms and flooding affecting more than 58 million people. An earthquake in August 2014 killed 731 people, attributing the highest mortality rate for a natural disaster in any country in 2014 to China.

–  In 2014, 87 per cent of disasters were climate-related. This continues a 20-year long trend of climate-related disasters outnumbering geophysical disasters in the ten most disaster-affected countries in the world.

–  Floods and landslides accounted for 49 per cent of all natural disasters in 2014, causing 63 per cent of the total number of disaster related deaths and 34 per cent of the total number of people affected by disasters, floods in India, Pakistan and the Balkans were among the most severe. Drought affected 39 per cent of the total number of people affected by disasters.

–  5,884 people were killed by technological disasters. The event, which resulted in the highest number of deaths, 304, was the sinking of the Sewol ferry, in the Republic of Korea. Nine other technological disasters caused more than 100 deaths each, for a total of 1,537. Transport accidents accounted for 74 per cent of deaths from technological disasters.

– In 2014, economic losses caused by disasters were estimated at $99.2 billion US dollars well below the annual average of $147 billion US dollars seen in the past ten years. The floods in Jammu and Kashmir along with Cyclone Hududh in India were the most costly events at $16 billion US dollars respectively. For the first time since 1980, the world experienced a consecutive decrease in economic losses caused by disasters over the last three years.

For further information about the event, please contact:

Sinead Harvey
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-8718
Email: sinead.harvey[at]unoosa.org

Thomas Marecek
Austrian Red Cross
Telephone: (+43-1) 58900-151
Email: Thomas.marecek[at]roteskreuz.at