Disaster resilience and post-2015 development goals: the options for economics targets and indicators

Headline issue

In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire. Detailed discussions are already underway to inform the post-2015 development goals. This paper seeks to inform discussions around appropriate economics targets and indicators for inclusion in the post-2015 framework, recommending a single economic target with an accompanying ‘basket’ of indicators.

Key points:

  • Economic damage from natural disasters is closely linked with development, poverty and economic growth. Low-income countries show high economic vulnerability to disasters. Damages to assets, public infrastructure and long-term productivity as a result can set back development and erode progress in tackling poverty. Economic resilience to disasters is an important enabler of many broader development goals.
  • When selecting a target, policy-makers have to make a trade-off between relevance of the target and its measurability. Indicators like economic losses, whilst relevant and powerful are challenging to measure. Input-output based indicators, like annual spending on disaster risk reduction are easier to measure but offer a narrow view of overall resilience.
  • This paper recommends a target as follows: “economic losses as a fraction of output are reduced by 20%”.
  • This proposed target can be measured across household, sector or national levels and can cover the whole economy. It should motivate action beyond traditional development agencies, stimulating action from households, businesses and finance ministries.
  • It is pro-growth and emphasises enhancing the resilience of growth. It also requires ambitious action from high, middle and low-income countries.
  • The effectiveness of this target could be strengthened with a number of complementary indicators including:
    • Transparent ‘input’ and ‘output’ based indicators, against which it is possible to measure key dimensions of progress in terms of reducing economic vulnerability every year;
    • Indicators that directly reflect humanitarian priorities and poverty reduction goals, to ensure actions are directed at assisting the most vulnerable in society; and
    • Model-based indicators of expected damages, which provide risk estimates and can be used to monitor progress annually and set meaningful benchmarks.
  • Developing an operational framework for monitoring performance against economic indicators requires substantial investments in capacity-building at international, national and local scales.