Natural and Environmental Disasters

Small island developing States are prone to extremely damaging natural disasters, primarily in the form of hurricanes, cyclones, volcanic eruptions, floods, droughts and earthquakes. In some islands, the range of these disasters includes storm surges, landslides, extended droughts and extensive floods. Due to climate change, some natural disasters, including drought, are perceived to be occurring with increasing frequency and intensity. Natural disasters are of special concern to small island developing States because of their small size; their dependence on agriculture and tourism which are particularly vulnerable to natural and environmental disasters; their narrow resource base; and the pervasive impact of such events on their people, environment and economies. Environmental disasters, including oil-spills for instance, are also a grave concern due to the delicate ecosystems of SIDS. The nonexistence or loss of insurance coverage is also an issue in several countries.

For SIDS affected by such natural disasters, their particular characteristics mean that the economic, social and environmental consequences are long-lasting and that the costs of rehabilitation are high as a percentage of gross national product (GNP). To mitigate the potential effects of disasters, measures must be taken at both the preventative and post-reconstructive levels. The basic principles and specific actions that are required at the national, regional and international levels to support sustainable development in small island developing states in the area of natural and environmental disasters is outlined in Chapters 2 of the BPoA and MSI.

The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) is a partnership comprising a range of global actors to address Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) at the national level, through the Hyogo Framework of Action. Thirty eight SIDS have accepted the Hyogo Framework of Action. The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) is a risk pooling facility, owned, operated and registered in the Caribbean for Caribbean governments. It is designed to limit the financial impact of catastrophic hurricanes and earthquakes to Caribbean governments by quickly providing short term liquidity when a policy is triggered. It is the world’s first and, to date, only regional fund utilising parametric insurance, giving Caribbean governments the unique opportunity to purchase earthquake and hurricane catastrophe coverage with lowest-possible pricing.