Dr Fiona Williamson, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
The start of the new millennium will be remembered for deadly climate-related disasters—the great floods in Thailand in 2011, Super Storm Sandy in the United States in 2012, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, to name a few. In 2014, 17.5 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters, ten times more than the 1.7 million displaced by geophysical hazards. Asia has had a disproportionate share of climate-relatd disasters, and the poor have borne the brunt of the destruction. What is causing the increase in natural disasters and what effect does it have on the economy?
This presentation of the research findings on the subject from global data brings out three messages. First, human-made factors exert a growing influence on the frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters. Second, because of the link to anthropogenic factors, there is a pressing need for climate mitigation as an integral part of development strategies of countries. Third, prevention, including climate adaptation, ought not to be viewed as a cost to economic growth but as a necessary and high return investment. Ultimately, attention to climate-related disasters, arguably the most tangible manifestation of global warming, may help mobilize broader climate action. It can also be instrumental in transitioning to a path of low-carbon, green growth, improving disaster resilience, improving natural resource use, and caring for the urban environment.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Vinod Thomas is currently Visiting professor at National University of Singapore. Previously he was Director General of Independent Evaluation at the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In this capacity, he reported to ADB's Board of Directors on the development effectiveness of the work of the organization. This function assessed the accountability of the organization in delivering results while providing lessons of experience to help strengthen those results. Prior to coming to ADB in August 2011, Vinod was the Director-General and Senior Vice-President of the Independent Evaluation Group at the World Bank Group. He was formerly Country Director for Brazil and Vice-President, a position that he held from October 2001 to July 2005. Before that he was Vice-President of the World Bank Institute, where he led the Institute’s efforts to improve its focus, quality, and impact. He joined the World Bank in 1976 and held several positions, including Chief Economist for the East Asia and Pacific region, Director for the World Development Report (on The Challenge of Development), Chief of Trade Policy and Principal Economist for Colombia, and Economist for Bangladesh.
Vinod has a PhD and MA in Economics from the University of Chicago and a BA from St. Stephen's college, Delhi. He has authored numerous books, articles, and reports on macroeconomic, social and environmental issues. His books include The Quality of Growth, Oxford University Press, 2000, (with Xubei Luo), Multilateral Banks and the Development Process 2012 and Climate Change and Natural Disasters, 2017, both from Transaction Publishers. He has taught at Vassar College, New York and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and has addressed numerous professional and academic fora in all regions.
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