Asia and the Pacific have a “narrow window” to save hard-won gains as climate change threatens to overwhelm disasters and impact billions, the U.N. Development Committee, which spans the vast region, said on Tuesday. According to a new report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), more than 140 disasters occurred in the region in 2022 alone, causing more than 7,500 deaths. They affected 64 million people and caused $57 billion in economic damage. ESCAP predicts that a 2°C warming scenario, without an adequate response, could result in increased deaths and more than $1 trillion in economic losses. “As temperatures continue to rise, new disaster hotspots are emerging and existing ones are intensifying,” ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salcia Alisjahbana said. “A catastrophic emergency is underway and must fundamentally change our approach to building resilience.” ## Adaptation targets the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2023, ESCAP’s flagship study on the changing patterns of disasters, their impacts and building resilience, launched by the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction, which convenes governments, experts and stakeholders in the region. This year, transitional adaptation aims to better protect vulnerable households and livelihoods in disaster-prone hotspots, ESCAP said. The committee is also expected to agree on a regional strategy to make early warning services available to all by 2027, in line with the UN Secretary-General’s pledge. ## Leveraging Innovations New and evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud sourcing also have an important role to play. They are “very important and very strategic” for reducing disaster risk, building resilience and strengthening climate action, Ms Alisjahbana said in an interview with UN News. Soundcloud “These technologies can increase our understanding of disaster patterns, provide early warning to everyone and support decision-making,” she added, referring to the latest update to ESCAP’s Disaster Risk and Resilience portal launched Monday. ## ESCAP’s Mission Informally known as the “Parliament” of the Asia-Pacific, ESCAP is one of the UN’s five regional commissions focused on development in the region home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s population. ESCAP’s 53 member states and 9 associate members span a geographical area from the Pacific island of Tuvalu in the east to Turkey in the west, Russia in the north and New Zealand in the south. France, Netherlands, UK, US and are among its non-local members. Other commissions of the UN cover West Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean respectively.
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