Sudip Maiti / Climate Visuals Countdown
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As the cost of disasters continues to escalate, it is clear that traditional approaches to risk reduction and adaptation are coming up short. We need to use what we know about the world from various sectors (architecture, agriculture, meteorology, geology, ecology, behavioural science, anthropology, economics) in intelligent ways to tackle systemic issues, maximizing benefits and minimizing trade-offs.

These innovations must be sustainable, such that social or environmental impacts are avoided while opportunities for co-benefits are embedded into the design. Importantly, innovations don’t have to be large, complex engineering projects or expensive technologies – they can also be simple, small-scale innovations that can make just as much of a difference.


In summer 2021, air temperatures in Canada broke records multiple days in a row as a powerful heatwave spread over the Pacific Northwest, registering over 600 heat-related deaths and setting an all-time high-temperature record for the country at 49.6°C (121.3°F).

On 1 September 2021, remnants of Hurricane Ida, the costliest disaster of 2021, brought historic rainfall to New York City, triggering the city’s first-ever flash flood alerts as water flooded streets, subway stations and apartments.

Lagos faces increasingly severe annual flooding, exacerbated by sea level rise and subsidence. In 2021, floods again submerged vehicles and houses, displacing thousands from their homes.

Southern Madagascar’s worst drought in 40 years led to severe stress on vegetation, triggering a drastic decline in rice, maize and cassava production. By December 2021, more than 1.6 million people were estimated to have been suffering high levels of food insecurity.

During the 2020-2021 typhoon season, for the first time in 56 years, no typhoon made landfall on Taiwan, leading to one of the worst droughts in the island’s history. As reservoirs fell below 5% capacity, more than one million households and businesses had to ration water.

The vaquita is a species of porpoise on the brink of extinction with less than 10 individuals estimated to be left in the wild. Although not commercially targeted, the vaquita is collateral damage in an ongoing conflict between fishers, government and international illegal trade.

From March 2020 to September 2021, a herd of approximately 15 Asian elephants left their home in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve. Along their journey, the herd broke into homes, damaged buildings and infrastructure, and destroyed crops, totaling estimated damage of over $1 million.

Explore more from the 2023 report