Press Release | 04 December 2008

Bangladesh, North Korea and Nicaragua most affected by weather catastrophes in 2007

Germanwatch presents new edition of Global Climate Risk Index

Poznan, 4 December 2008. The environment and development organisation Germanwatch today presented the 4th edition of the Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) at the UN climate negotiations in Poznan.

More than fifteen thousand people around the world died in 2007 from extreme weather events, a record number compared with recent years. Damages accounted to more than 80 billion US$. Many more people have been severely affected, through storms, floods and other weather extremes. People in less developed countries have a far harder time coping with such events compared with their peers in industrialized countries. And while of course no single weather catastrophe can be directly attributed to global warming, the changing climate will most certainly lead to an increase in their frequency and intensity in many parts of the world.

Sven Harmeling, Senior Advisor for Climate and Development at Germanwatch and author of the study: "According to our analyses, the most affected countries in 2007 were Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and Oman. Bangladesh suffered heavily from cyclone Sidr and experienced more than 4,000 casualties and 10 billion dollars of damages. In Oman, the strongest cyclone for more than 50 years caused significant economic losses." Even more meaningful is the ranking of the last decade. Between 1998 and 2007, Honduras, Bangladesh and Nicaragua were ranked as those countries most affected.

It is remarkable that as an overall conclusion poorer countries are much more affected than richer ones, Sven Harmeling added. "However, Bangladesh is, despite last year´s impacts, also one of the outstanding examples of countries who have invested significantly and effectively in developing disaster reduction and adaptation strategies. The recently presented "Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan" can serve as a model for many other countries and deserves support by the international community."

Maarten van Aalst, Associate Director of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Center in The Hague, commented on the presentation of the study: "We are witnessing a strong increase in disasters, particularly the climate-related ones (in terms of the number of disasters, economic damage, and people affected). This is partly due to rising vulnerability, partly already reflecting global climate change - a trend which is bound to continue." He further remarked that besides providing assistance when disaster strikes, the most effective response is disaster risk reduction. "Preventing or reducing the impacts of the increasing hazards is crucial. Practical risk reduction options include, for instance, better early warning, drought resistant crops or reforestation to prevent floods", said van Aalst.

Christoph Bals, Executive Director Policy of Germanwatch added: "The Copenhagen treaty can introduce a necessary support mechanism with both a prevention and an insurance pillar. It is very positive that concrete proposals for risk management and insurance are today dicussed in detail in Poznan."

The Global Climate Risk Index 2009 analyses which countries are particularly affected by weather extremes. It presents a ranking of those countries most seriously affected in 2007 and in the past decade, through an analysis of the impacts of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heatwaves etc.). The analysis is based on the NatCatSERVICE database of Munich Re.


For interviews and further requests please contact:

  • Sven Harmeling, Germanwatch (in Poznan): +49-160-99461412,
  • Christoph Bals, Germanwatch (in Poznan): +49-174-327 5669,
  • Maarten van Aalst, Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre: +31-6-51086199,