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Disaster Risk Reduction

Disasters are not random and do not occur by accident. They are the convergence of hazards and vulnerable conditions. Disasters not only reveal underlying social, economic, political and environmental problems, but unfortunately contribute to worsening them, hindering economic and social progress. On the other hand, healthy ecosystem services that protect lives from natural hazards, support livelihoods and other crucial aspects of human well-being, as well as effective environmental management and environmental information, offer opportunities to reduce risk, decrease poverty and achieve sustainable development.

UNEP works to prevent and combat future environmental threats based on early risk assessments. The Division of Early Warning and Assessment facilitates access to relevant environmental data for decision-making through monitoring, analyses and reports on the state of the global and regional environment and trends, producing such publications as the Global Environment Outlook. The primary focus is on longer-term warning of emerging environmental problems and threats (known as slow-onset disasters), but also to provide scientific and technical support concerning natural disasters through such applications as the Project on Risk Evaluation, Vulnerability, Information and Early Warning (PreView). PreView is a project initiated by UNEP in 1999, which is now being supported by four institutions: UNEP, UNISDR, UNDP and the World Bank.
In its post-crisis assessment and recovery work, UNEP’s programme focuses on countries that have been identified as vulnerable to natural hazards, as well as on human-made disaster events with an environmental component. In addition, UNEP seeks to reduce and/or avert future vulnerabilities by integrating environment and disaster risk reduction into recovery efforts.

As well as producing environmental risk assessments, UNEP:

  • Seeks to strengthen the hand of Member States for environmental management through developing responsive strategies, building capacity and implementing pilot projects to reduce identified risks, thereby contributing to long-term disaster risk reduction.
  • Contributes to global policy development by producing policy toolkits and training modules that demonstrate good practices and lessons learned in reducing risks.
  • Provides environmental data and expertise on sustainable management of shared natural resources.

As an effective means to disseminate policies into practice, UNEP coordinates the Partnership on Environment for Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR), a global level forum and a Platform of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), which seeks to advance an integrated approach to disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, ecosystem management and livelihoods. Some of the partners include: IUCN, WWF, SEI, GFMC, and ADP.

UNEP’s disaster risk reduction work also extends to Climate Change and Environmentally Induced Migration (CCIEM)

For a glossary of key disaster and risk terms please see Methodology 

For more information on UNEP's Disaster Risk Reduction programme please contact Marisol Estrella,Programme Coordinator on: