Asia tops global list for climate-related disasters in 2023

Children sit atop a boat lying on dried and cracked and dried up soil in a section of Iraq’s receding southern marshes of Chibayish in Dhi Qar province. AFP

The United Nations stated on Tuesday that Asia endured the highest number of climate, weather, and water-related disasters in 2023, making it the most disaster-affected region globally.

Floods and storms were identified as the primary reasons for both casualties and economic damages.

Celeste Saulo, the director of the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization, emphasized that climate change played a crucial role in intensifying the frequency and impact of these calamities.

She noted that these events had significant repercussions on societies, economies, and, most importantly, the well-being of individuals and the surrounding environment.

The WMO said Asia was warming faster than the global average, with temperatures last year nearly two degrees Celsius above the 1961 to 1990 average.

“The report’s conclusions are sobering,” WMO chief Celeste Saulo said in a statement.

“Many countries in the region experienced their hottest year on record in 2023, along with a barrage of extreme conditions, from droughts and heatwaves to floods and storms.

“Climate change exacerbated the frequency and severity of such events, profoundly impacting societies, economies, and, most importantly, human lives and the environment that we live in.”

The State of the Climate in Asia 2023 report highlighted the accelerating rate of key climate change indicators such as surface temperature, glacier retreat and sea level rise, saying they would have serious repercussions for societies, economies and ecosystems in the region.

“Asia remained the world’s most disaster-hit region from weather, climate and water-related hazards in 2023,” the WMO said.