G20 : Economic Cooperation ahead

Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction: G20’s Role and Priorities


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: G20 and disaster management initiatives and finance mechanism

Mains level: G20's Role in Driving Global Goals and India's leadership in disaster risk management

Central Idea

  • The G20 nations, representing a population of 4.7 billion people, are exposed to significant risks from natural disasters and face substantial vulnerabilities. In the World Risk Index, four G20 countries are among the top 10 most vulnerable nations. The economic impact of disasters in the G20 countries alone amounts to an estimated annual average loss of $218 billion. It is imperative to prioritize disaster risk reduction measures to mitigate these losses and protect development gains.

G20’s Role in Driving Global Goals

  • Platform for International Cooperation: The G20 provides a platform for international cooperation and collaboration among the world’s major economies. It brings together leaders from diverse nations to discuss global challenges, share best practices, and coordinate efforts to address common goals.
  • Influence and Economic Power: The G20 nations represent a significant share of the global economy, accounting for approximately 85% of global GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population. Their collective influence and economic power give them the capacity to drive global initiatives and mobilize resources to address pressing issues.
  • Promoting Policy Coherence: The G20 promotes policy coherence by fostering dialogue and coordination among its member nations. Through discussions, agreements, and joint statements, the G20 seeks to align policies and actions to address global challenges, including those related to disaster risk reduction.
  • Innovative Financing Mechanisms: The G20 has the ability to explore and promote innovative financing mechanisms for global goals. This includes mobilizing financial resources from governments, multilateral institutions, capital markets, insurance companies, philanthropies, and communities. By maximizing the impact of financial resources, the G20 can support initiatives related to disaster risk reduction and other priority areas.
  • Advancing International Frameworks and Agreements: The G20 plays a vital role in advancing international frameworks and agreements related to disaster risk reduction. For instance, the G20 can support the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which provides a global roadmap for reducing disaster risks and enhancing resilience.
  • Sharing Best Practices and Lessons Learned: Through the G20 platform, member countries can share best practices, experiences, and lessons learned in disaster risk reduction. This exchange of knowledge and expertise contributes to the development of effective strategies, policies, and approaches that can be replicated and scaled up globally.
  • Driving Innovation and Research: The G20 can drive innovation and research by promoting investment in research and development related to disaster risk reduction. This includes supporting scientific advancements, technological innovations, and data-driven approaches that enhance understanding, preparedness, and response to disasters.
  • Influencing Global Agendas: As major economies, the G20 nations have significant influence on global agendas. By prioritizing and advocating for specific issues, such as disaster risk reduction, the G20 can shape global discourse, policies, and actions, mobilizing international attention and resources towards addressing these challenges

The vulnerability of G20 countries to disasters

  • Geographic Location: Several G20 countries are located in regions prone to specific hazards. For instance, countries like Japan, Indonesia, Mexico, and Turkey are situated in seismically active zones, making them vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis. Coastal nations, including the United States, China, India, Brazil, and Australia, face the risks of tropical cyclones, storm surges, and coastal flooding.
  • Climate Extremes: G20 countries experience a wide range of climate-related hazards. For instance, Canada and Russia face risks associated with extreme cold, while Australia and Brazil are susceptible to wildfires and droughts. Heatwaves and heavy rainfall leading to floods pose significant risks in countries like India, Germany, and South Korea.
  • Population Density: Several G20 countries have high population densities, increasing their vulnerability to disasters. The concentration of people and infrastructure in urban areas amplifies the potential impacts of hazards such as earthquakes, floods, and storms. Cities like Tokyo, Mexico City, Mumbai, Istanbul, and Shanghai face unique challenges due to their large populations and exposure to multiple hazards.
  • Infrastructure and Urbanization: Rapid urbanization and inadequate infrastructure planning can exacerbate vulnerability to disasters. Poorly constructed buildings, inadequate drainage systems, and improper land use practices can heighten the impacts of hazards. G20 countries with rapid urban growth, such as China and India, face challenges related to resilient urban development.
  • Socioeconomic Factors: Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, inequality, and limited access to resources can increase vulnerability to disasters. Countries with significant disparities in wealth distribution, such as India, Brazil, and South Africa, often face challenges in adequately addressing disaster risks and providing timely response and recovery.
  • Environmental Degradation: G20 countries also grapple with environmental degradation, which can exacerbate vulnerability to disasters. Deforestation, soil erosion, and loss of wetlands and natural buffers diminish the ability of ecosystems to mitigate and absorb the impacts of hazards. This is particularly relevant for countries like Brazil, Indonesia, and Russia, which are home to ecologically sensitive regions

India’s Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

  • Initiating a New Workstream in G20: India has taken a proactive step by initiating a new workstream within the G20 focused on disaster risk reduction. This highlights India’s recognition of the importance of international collaboration and concerted efforts to address disaster risks at a global level.
  • Five Priorities Outlined in the Working Group: In the first meeting of the G20 working group on disaster risk reduction, India put forth five priorities to guide the group’s efforts. These priorities include universal coverage of early warning systems, emphasis on disaster and climate-resilient infrastructure, improving financing frameworks, enhancing response capabilities, and applying ecosystem-based approaches to disaster risk.
  • Transforming Disaster Financing: India has spearheaded efforts to transform the way governments finance disaster risk reduction. Recognizing the limitations of traditional budget allocations, India has explored innovative financing tools and mechanisms. This includes creating reserve funds, dedicated lines of credit, and leveraging global resources to support disaster-resilient infrastructure development.
  • Targeted Efforts to Reduce Losses: India has made targeted efforts to reduce losses from disasters through comprehensive risk management strategies. By focusing on areas such as flood risk management, India has implemented measures to minimize the impacts of extreme weather conditions, protect lives, and enhance disaster preparedness.
  • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI): India and the United States currently co-chair the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. The CDRI aims to promote investments in resilient infrastructure and foster international collaboration to enhance disaster resilience globally. India’s leadership in this coalition reflects its commitment to driving resilience-building efforts.
  • Implementation of Sendai Framework: India has aligned its disaster risk reduction efforts with the Sendai Framework, a global framework for DRR. The 10-point agenda outlined by India’s Prime Minister after the adoption of the Sendai Framework guides the country in the implementation of comprehensive DRR strategies.

Key Themes for Future Action

  • Reimagining Financing for Disaster Risk Reduction: Explore innovative financing tools, including reserve funds, dedicated lines of credit, and global resource mobilization. While green financing has gained momentum, greater attention should be given to disaster risk financing, especially for countries like India with increasing capital expenditure.
  • Differential Strategies for Extensive and Intensive Risks: Develop targeted approaches to reduce losses from frequent but moderate impact events (extensive risks) such as heatwaves, lightning, floods, and landslides. These events accumulate significant losses and necessitate specific risk reduction measures.
  • Convergence of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation: Integrate efforts to address both disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Analytical and implementation capacities for disaster risk reduction should support climate change adaptation, ensuring synergies between flood management structures and adaptation efforts.
  • Priority Access to Early Warning Systems: Early warning systems, such as cyclone early warnings, should be treated as global public goods, accessible to all populations irrespective of their economic strength. The G20 can lead by example, setting up mechanisms to ensure universal access to early warning systems in line with the UN Secretary General’s initiative.
  • Multi-tiered and Multi-sectoral Effort: Disaster risk reduction requires an integrated approach across levels and sectors. Integration from local to global levels and horizontal collaboration across sectors will enhance readiness to manage unknown risks, considering the interlinkages and interdependence of the world

Need for Convergence of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation

  • Shared Risks and Drivers: Both DRR and CCA address risks associated with natural hazards and climate change impacts. Disasters are often exacerbated by climate change, while climate change can intensify the frequency and severity of disasters. Converging efforts allows for a comprehensive and integrated approach to address these shared risks and underlying drivers.
  • Synergies in Solutions: DRR and CCA strategies share common elements and can leverage synergies in their solutions. For example, building disaster-resilient infrastructure can contribute to climate change adaptation by considering future climate scenarios. Similarly, nature-based solutions, such as protecting and restoring ecosystems, can provide benefits for both disaster risk reduction and climate resilience.
  • Efficiency and Resource Optimization: Converging DRR and CCA efforts allows for the efficient use of resources, avoiding duplication and maximizing the effectiveness of interventions. Instead of implementing separate and parallel initiatives, integrated approaches can streamline efforts, optimize funding, and improve overall outcomes.
  • Integrated Risk Management: Combining DRR and CCA enables a holistic approach to risk management. By integrating climate projections, vulnerability assessments, and disaster risk assessments, decision-makers can develop comprehensive risk management strategies that address both current and future risks.
  • Co-benefits for Sustainable Development: Integrating DRR and CCA contributes to sustainable development goals. By reducing disaster risks and enhancing climate resilience, communities can protect livelihoods, preserve ecosystems, ensure food security, and promote social well-being. This integrated approach aligns with the broader agenda of sustainable development.
  • Policy and Institutional Integration: Convergence of DRR and CCA necessitates policy coherence and institutional coordination. Aligning strategies, frameworks, and institutions responsible for DRR and CCA facilitates better integration of risk reduction and adaptation measures. This coordination strengthens governance structures and enhances implementation effectiveness.
  • Adaptive Capacity Building: Addressing the interconnected challenges of disasters and climate change requires enhancing adaptive capacities at various levels. By combining efforts, stakeholders can work collaboratively to build capacities for disaster response, early warning systems, community engagement, and climate-resilient practices, thereby enhancing overall resilience.


  • Disaster preparedness has been a priority of India for last few years. India has taken significant steps in transforming disaster risk reduction financing and targeted loss reduction efforts. Chairing the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure alongside the United States, India’s commitment to disaster preparedness is reflected in the creation of a new workstream under the G20. By leveraging their economic power, promoting policy coherence, and fostering international cooperation, the G20 can contribute to building a safer, more resilient, and sustainable world.

Also read:

India’s G20 Presidency and Disaster Risk Management


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