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Increasing global interconnectivity, population, and economic growth, and the mutual interdependence of economic and ecological systems, can serve both to reduce vulnerability and to amplify disaster risks (high confidence). Global development pathways are becoming a more important factor in the management of vulnerability and disaster risk. [7.2.1]
The international community has accumulated substantial experience in providing help for disasters and risk management in the context of localized and short-term events associated with climate variability and extremes. Experience in disaster risk management includes both bottom-up and top-down approaches, but most often has developed from disasters considered first as local issues, then at the national level, and only at the international level where needs exceed national capacity, especially in terms of humanitarian assistance and capacity building. [7.2.4]
There are two main mechanisms at the international level that are purpose-built and dedicated to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. These are the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in particular in its adaptation components. This chapter focuses on these two bodies while recognizing that there are many others that have an international role to play. Page limitations require a selective approach and a comprehensive assessment of all relevant bodies is impractical. The UNISDR and the UNFCCC are very different institutions with different mandates and scope and objectives, and with varying strengths and capacities (high confidence).
This Summary for Policymakers presents key findings from the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). The SREX approaches the topic by assessing the scientific literature on issues that range from the relationship between climate change and extreme weather and climate events (‘climate extremes’) to the implications of these events for society and sustainable development. The assessment concerns the interaction of climatic, environmental, and human factors that can lead to impacts and disasters, options for managing the risks posed by impacts and disasters, and the important role that non-climatic factors play in determining impacts. Box SPM.1 defines concepts central to the SREX.
The character and severity of impacts from climate extremes depend not only on the extremes themselves but also on exposure and vulnerability. In this report, adverse impacts are considered disasters when they produce widespread damage and cause severe alterations in the normal functioning of communities or societies. Climate extremes, exposure, and vulnerability are influenced by a wide range of factors, including anthropogenic climate change, natural climate variability, and socioeconomic development (Figure SPM.1). Disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change focus on reducing exposure and vulnerability and increasing resilience to the potential adverse impacts of climate extremes, even though risks cannot fully be eliminated (Figure SPM.2). Although mitigation of climate change is not the focus of this report, adaptation and mitigation can complement each other and together can significantly reduce the risks of climate change. [SYR AR4, 5.3]
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