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2020 Global Natural Disaster Assessment Report

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Executive Summary

Compared to the average over the last 30 years (1990-2019), the occurrence and intensity of global natural disasters were generally at a lower level in 2020. Major natural disasters in 2020 were 4% less in frequency, 73% lower in deaths, 50% less in the population affected and 29% more in direct economic losses. In 2020, the frequency of extreme temperatures around the world was low, but the number of deaths from such events was the most, reaching 6343; flood disasters were the most frequent, 43% more than historic levels and causing 6171 deaths, but the flood-related deaths were 7% less than the historical average; the direct economic losses caused by storm disasters were large, reaching USD 93.2 billion and 64% more than historic levels; there were fewer strong earthquakes, with relatively small disaster losses; the number of deaths from wildfires decreased, but the direct economic losses were 172% higher than those in history. Regionally, Asia has seen the highest frequency of natural disasters in 2020, followed by Africa; among all continents, Europe has had the largest number of deaths due to disasters, followed by Asia; North America has seen the highest economic losses due to disasters, followed by Asia; compared with developed countries, developing countries were more severely affected by disasters, mostly floods and storms. In 2020, deaths from natural disasters in China were at a lower level in the world, and the proportion of direct economic losses in GDP was in the upper middle level, which were basically consistent with the level of its economic development. The flood losses in China were higher than those from other disasters, which accounted for a large proportion of the global flood losses.

Flood disasters were the major natural disasters affecting the world in 2020. The results of analysis of historical disaster losses show that in addition to single loss, we should also pay attention to cumulative loss in research and practice of flood risk management; in the future, while strengthening the prevention and control of flood events of medium intensity and above, we shall also pay closer attention to small and frequent flood disaster events so as to reduce flood-related fatalities.

By sorting out the flood disaster losses in China from 2009 to 2018, focusing on the flood disasters in southern China that occurred in the summer of 2020, and comparing them with typical flood events in history, the report finds that China has successfully mitigated major flood losses through a series of measures of integrated flood disaster risk reduction