The Philippines is Third-Riskiest Country When it Comes to Natural Disasters

IMAGE Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft 2017

The United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security has released its 2017 World Risk Report, which indicates "the risk of disaster in consequence of extreme natural events" in 171 countries around the world. This year, the Philippines ranks third on the index, behind Vanuatu and Tonga. This is the country’s third year in third place, after moving down from second place in 2015.

The World Risk Index (WRI) doesn’t just measure each country’s exposure or risk of being struck by natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, drought, and rising sea levels. It also examines the man-made factors in these calamities, through three components: coping, or the country’s level of preparedness and ability to respond effectively to disasters; adaptation, which is the nation’s ability to adjust and form “long-term strategies” for climate change; and susceptibility, which measures the citizens’ socioeconomic conditions. These three components are added to measure a nation’s vulnerability.

IMAGE: Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft 2017

The Philippines also ranks third on the WRI’s list of countries with the greatest exposure to natural disasters, with a score of 52.46%, just ahead of Japan (45.91%). This shouldn’t be that surprising, given that we’re located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and the World Risk Report notes that the top 15 countries in the WRI are all island or coastal nations.

The report adds that apart from natural exposure to hurricanes, these nations aren’t exactly helping their cause when they allow “natural protective mechanisms” like coral reefs and mangrove forests to be destroyed. 

But it’s slightly comforting to know we aren’t on the Top 15 lists of countries with the highest vulnerability, susceptibility, greatest lack of coping capacities, or lack of adaptive capacities. Our scores for these components range from medium to high, with 52.78% for vulnerability, 32.97% for susceptibility, 80.92% for lack of coping capacities, and 44.45% for lack of adaptive capacities. 

Nevertheless, these figures are a reminder that not only do we need to be better prepared for natural disasters, but that we need to step up our efforts in protecting the environment as well.

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