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TEMA & SDGs: Disaster Management for Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development Goals Table

Why Disaster & Risk Management are Vital for SDGs

During the last eight years since the UN Agenda 2030 was approved, people worldwide have become familiar with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are 17: 1) No Poverty; 2) Zero Hunger; 3) Good Health and Well-Being; 4) Quality Education; 5) Gender Equality; 6) Water and Sanitation; 7) Affordable and Clean Energy; 8) Decent Work and Economic Growth; 9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; 10) Reduced Inequalities; 11) Sustainable Cities and Communities; 12) Responsible Consumption and Production; 13) Climate Action; 14) Life Below Water; 15) Life on Land; 16) Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; 17) Partnerships for the Goals. These goals are the blueprint for reaching economic, environmental and social sustainable development for all in every country on Earth.

When reading the goals, it is hardly true that anyone would think about disasters, but in reality, Disaster Management and Risk Reduction play an essential role in achieving them. To understand it better, first, an explanation is due regarding what Disaster and Risk mean. Benson (2016) defines the first as “when a natural hazard event occurs in an area containing vulnerable people and assets.” While the latter can be measured considering the possibility of a natural hazard to occur in a given location and the value and vulnerability of people and assets in that location (Benson, 2016).

So, the effect that Disasters can have on Sustainable Development is massive because they result in the destruction of private – like homes – and public – like schools or hospitals – buildings, they damage the natural environment, and they impact the social and economic situation, affecting disproportionately the most vulnerable (Benson, 2016; UNECE, 2019). Therefore, as stated by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed: "Nothing erodes sustainable development like disasters, which can often destroy decades of progress in minutes.” (UNDRR, 2023).


The links between UN Agenda 2030 and Disasters Risk and Management

Acknowledging what is written above and, borrowing again UN Deputy Secretary-General’s words, that “the failure to identify, prevent and reduce risks before they manifest as disasters not only places the Sustainable Development Goals in jeopardy — it affects the most vulnerable people in the world first and worst.", the 2030 Agenda recognises and reaffirms the compelling need to reduce the Disasters Risk.(UNISDR, 2015b; UN, 2022; UNDRR, 2023). It does that both directly and indirectly, sometimes even explicitly targeting Risk Reduction in the SDGs (Benson, 2016).


Sustainable Development Goals N. 1, 2, 11 & 13


These four Goals are the ones that clearly cite the importance of Risk Reduction. First, SDG 1 aims to end poverty in all its forms everywhere, and it identifies that the impact of disasters undermines development gains, dragging the poor and most vulnerable even deeper into poverty, as they live in the most vulnerable areas and receive less support (UNISDR, 2015b). Precisely, target 1.5 states: “build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters”. Furthermore, as indicators to measure development, Agenda 2030 indicate the number of deaths and economic loss attributed to disasters, and the adoption of Risk Reduction strategies (in line with the Sendai Framework).



SDG 2 has the objective of ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture. Especially, target 2.4 requires to “ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.”. This target highlights the disastrous effects that Extreme Weather Events, Droughts and Floods have on food security worldwide, showing how important it is to mitigate the risk (UNISDR, 2015b).


SDG 11

SDG 11 recommends making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. As the urban population is predicted to account for 66% of the world population before 2050, it is then rational to try making cities less vulnerable to Natural Disasters as targets 11.5 and 11.b aim to do (UNISDR, 2015b; UNDRR, 2023). The former’s purpose is to “significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses […] caused by disasters, including water-related disasters […]”. The latter is to “increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement […] holistic disaster risk management at all levels.”.


SDG 13

Last, SDG 13 calls to take urgent action to combat Climate Change and its impacts. Climate Change is the main cause of the increasing frequency of Natural Disasters and Extreme Weather Events, so to combat its impacts, it is necessary to strengthen resiliency, and improve early warning and disaster response (UNISDR, 2015b; UNDRR, 2023). This time the specific target is 13.1, exactly aiming to “strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.”, measuring the number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters and the number of countries that adopt and implement national disaster risk reduction strategies.


The TEMA Project and the Tools to Improve Risk Reduction

After demonstrating why mitigating disaster impacts is so important for Sustainable Development, it is essential to find concrete proposals. One solution has been presented by the TEMA (Trusted Extremely precise MApping and prediction for emergency management) Project, funded in the Horizon Europe framework. Composed of 19 partners, TEMA will improve disaster prevention and preparedness by applying modern tools to analyse and process large volumes of data. Thanks to these new technologies, it will provide phenomenon modelling, real-time predictions on the evolution of the disaster – be it a flood, a wildfire, and so on – and precise semantic 3D mapping. Moreover, it will create an Augmented Reality platform to help First Responders save as many lives as possible, in the first emergency hours.