In the wake of the tragic loss of lives and significant economic impacts caused by the 2023 earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, the Global Business Coalition calls on all governments to use G20 under India’s presidency to implement the best available risk reduction, mitigation and response policies and direct much-needed resources to improve disaster resilience. These challenges are increasing and must be met with a multisector approach to avoid the loss of life in communities around the world.
As disasters of all kinds wreak their devastation locally, the interconnectedness of systems and economies are evident in their effects globally. Coordinated investment in resilience is essential of G20 members, and India recognized this critical need early and set up the Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group scheduled to meet on April 30.
The Global Business Coalition welcomes G20 India’s plans to develop a platform for academics and practitioners engaged in disaster risk reduction in G20 countries. Business expertise is essential to this multilateral work. As threats and hazards are increasing the pace of disasters, the business community must be a partner of government in reducing disaster impacts by investing in adaptive capacity enabling resilient communities and systems coping with these increasing challenges. The costs are unsustainable.
The combined estimated annual average loss in G20 is $218 billion or 9% of average annual investment in infrastructure. According to an early World Bank assessment of damages in Türkiye the direct cost from the earthquakes are at US$34.2 billion (equivalent to 4 percent of Türkiye’s 2021 GDP). The business community calls on the G20 to focus on global coverage of early warning systems, identify specific damage and loss reduction targets in key infrastructure across economic sectors, and clear, capable authorities for rapid response.
In addition to the devastating human toll, disaster risks can cause long-term economic crises and systemic financial risks, therefore resilience can shape economic well-being. When disasters like the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria occur, they have the potential to trigger a domino effect of impacts across sectors destabilizing society including infrastructure, housing, health care systems, agriculture, supply chains, education, livelihood, and food security. Disasters can also increase fragility, fracturing economies and communities, increasing inequalities and existing vulnerabilities, and hindering innovations such as the transition to a green economic development paradigm.
The earthquakes make the choice clear and consequences extremely stark – disaster preparedness, capacity for adaptation, and actions across sectors is a driving human, economic, and geo-political imperative for building resilience across all sectors. The developing and least developed countries are the most vulnerable to disasters and offer the best opportunities to demonstrate the effectiveness of investing in resilience to save lives and support economies. In this respect, OECD Compendium of Policy Good Practices for Quality Infrastructure Investment as well as G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment underline key elements for resilient infrastructures.
The benefits of investing in disaster risk reduction and the urgent need for increasing its financing have been highlighted and brought to the agenda of G20 Italy by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). In its paper, the UNDRRR supports accelerating efforts in disaster risk reduction to achieve inclusive sustainable development. The paper underlines that global annual investments of only US$ 6 billion in appropriate disaster risk management strategies could generate benefits of US$ 360 billion or an equivalent of more than a 20 percent reduction in new and additional expected annual losses. Moreover, according to a World Bank report published in 2019, the net benefits of investing in resilient infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) could be USD 4.2 trillion over the lifetime of new infrastructure. G20 adopted Principles of Quality Infrastructure Investment which recognized the need for disaster risk management plans to ensure long-term adaptability and build the resilience of infrastructure but focuses almost exclusively on human-made risks.
We are continuing to experience a series of resource-intensive, complex incidents that include multiple hazards, globally with complex supply chains and market dynamics that demand resilience across interdependent sectors and helping the economically marginalized become more resilient. We cannot wait until the next humanitarian response to earthquakes or any other disaster to take necessary action.
Now is the time to prepare globally for future disasters. We call upon the G20 Leaders to take action for developing multi-sector solutions, investing in resilient systems ahead of disaster, and build adaptive capacity informed by risk to people, infrastructure, and economies:
Include multi-sector stakeholders in building both rapid response and resilient solutions – specifically business:
- Revise the urbanization plans with a holistic approach including strengthening the resilience of communities, livelihoods, economic activity, buildings, and infrastructure including cultural heritage sites; and preventing social and economic disruptions.
- Work with industry to identify investment priorities and minimize barriers to trade or investment.
- Strengthen the global efforts on digital technologies which contribute to early warning and response processes in natural disasters.
Invest in resilience now to avoid loss of life and economic disruption in future disasters:
- Integrate disaster risk reduction and resilience into the economic and development strategies of both the public and private sectors.
- Prioritize resilient infrastructure investments with a disaster-first approach that will create a sustainable future for their citizens.
- Secure open, transparent and competitive procurement processes to ensure that infrastructure projects are value for money, safe and effective.
- Empower local authorities through regulatory and financial means to work and coordinate with civil society and communities in disaster risk management at the local level.
Build adaptive capacity before crisis and disasters through risk awareness and recovery activities:
- Identify critical infrastructure assets and systems and define risk levels that are acceptable or intolerable.
- Enforce the implementation of an effective and comprehensive framework for recovery (before a disaster strikes).
- Strengthen the digitalization process to ensure business continuity and economic recovery in the post-disaster period.
- Integrate sustainable development principles in the reconstruction of the disaster-affected regions.
- Promote and support technological innovation to mitigate the effect of disasters on critical infrastructures and buildings.