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World Risk Report 2012, United Nations University

The 2012 WorldRiskReport from United Nations University, similar to the 2011 World Risk Index before it, provides detailed analyses and information about disaster risk for countries throughout the world, based on countries’ exposure to hazards and vulnerability.  A definitive example of this would be the 2011 6.3 mag earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand that led to the loss of 187 lives, while the 2010 Haiti 7.0 mag earthquake in comparison led to a death toll of 220,000.  The financial loss of both earthquakes was 16 billion USD and 8 billion USD respectively.  If you look at the rankings of both countries in the report (Haiti ranked at 21 (high risk) and New Zealand at 122) you begin to understand why.

Haiti has a vulnerability rating of 73.54 percent and an exposure rating of 16.26 percent while New Zealand with a similar exposure rating of 15.44 percent, but with far more infrastructure in place for dealing with earthquake hazards has a vulnerability rating of 28.77 percent.  New Zealand’s lack of capacity to adapt (30.39 percent) is also much lower than that of Haiti, which is 67.48 percent.  The lesson here is that while large-scale hazards cannot be prevented, losses can be reduced with adequate preparation and adaptive measures, however, this also takes time to implement and financial resources often unavailable in poorer countries. Read more

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