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Disaster mitigation means decreasing the impact of disasters on people and the environment. Because of climate change, there is an increasing need for disaster mitigation worldwide. The climate-related disasters have almost doubled compared to the previous 20 years. 

A similar word for disaster mitigation is disaster risk reduction. Many efforts are working with these themes today. For example, there is the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDRR. They aim to create a world where disaster risks no longer threaten the well-being of people and the planet. A disaster seriously impacts a community’s functioning, overthrowing and destroying its capacity to withstand. It can be both natural and artificial. For example, increased natural hazards following climate change cause disasters worldwide.

Mitigate definition

Mitigation is “reducing how harmful, unpleasant or bad something is”. Therefore, disaster mitigation is the act of reducing how harmful a disaster can be. It is also common to hear about climate change mitigation, which means mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Disaster mitigation and global warming

Global emissions of greenhouse gases need to start decreasing. At present, they are still rising. Therefore, the consequences of global warming risk becoming more severe. For example, if the development continues, the world risks having about 560 disasters annually in 2030. More so, 100.5 million people could be pushed into poverty solely due to climate change and disasters.  

Yet, even if we stop global emissions today, we still face increased disasters. As mentioned above, climate-related disasters are already more common. Although, the severity of the increase depends on global temperature rises. For example, extreme rainfall intensifies by about 7 % for each degree of global warming. 

Disasters and climate change

As mentioned above, climate change will bring more frequent natural hazards — for example, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and earthquakes. Drought and heat waves are also considered natural hazards. As mentioned, when a community cannot withstand a hazard’s impact, it leads to a natural disaster. 

Disaster mitigation efforts

Since disasters happen when a community cannot withstand threats, risk reduction efforts can prevent many of them. People can prevent hazards from leading to catastrophe by working with communities on disaster risk reduction. The latter includes developing how prepared the community is, reducing the risks and creating more resilience. For example, the IFRC works with the leading words prevent – reduce – prepare. 

Preventing a disaster can include:

  • Installing early warning systems and working with anticipatory action. 
  • Working with early evacuation.
  • Reinforcing homes and sharing health protection kits.

Also another preventative measure is to work with nature-based solutions, which means strengthening communities by strengthening their ecosystems. In detail, restoring a forest or a mangrove provides natural protection against hazards.  

Furthermore, reducing the risk of a disaster means reducing the public health impacts of climate change. While being prepared is reached by working with public education, such as training communities in disaster risk reduction. 

What are the expected outcomes of disaster mitigation? 

Disaster mitigation aims to create resilient communities that can withstand natural hazards. In other words, the goal is to eliminate disasters. However, climate change puts tremendous pressure on this aim. It also leads to unpredicted natural hazards. More so, the ability to work with risk reduction depends on financial possibilities. There would have to be much more funding for disaster reduction to avoid all the disasters in the world. Even then, climate change makes it one of the most significant challenges of our times. 

Sources: UNDRR, Cambridge dictionary, IFRC, IMF


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