Countries in Central and South Eastern Europe are exposed to a range of disasters caused by the impact of natural hazards, including earthquakes, floods, forest fires, drought and landslides. The impact of climate change, accompanied by changes in land-use patterns and increased human settlements in areas that are prone to disasters, will certainly increase risk from such weather-related hazards in the coming years. According to projections1 , the following should be expected due to climatic changes: (i) increases in weather variability; (ii) new extreme values of temperatures, precipitation or wind speed; (iii) new exposures; and (iv) more frequent and fierce disasters.
As the effects of climate change continue to manifest, they will combine with changes in land-use patterns to further increase the social and economic vulnerabilities of the countries of South Eastern Europe (SEE) to disaster events. The region has been affected by frequent floods in the last few years, and severe droughts and forest fires in 2007. In addition to weather-related vulnerability, the Mediterranean/Transasian geologic fault zone passes through the Balkans, while the Vrancea zone intersects Romania and parts of Bulgaria and Moldova, making these areas vulnerable to earthquakes and other geological hazards. A 1963 earthquake destroyed a large part of Skopje, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and killed about 1,300 people; another earthquake (measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale) struck Bucharest in 1977, killing about 1,570 people and causing economic losses well in excess of USD 2 billion. The capacity to manage seismic risk in the SEE region has been low, as compared with the best world practices and technical possibilities.
Disasters already have a significant impact on economic performance in the SEE region and may affect country macroeconomic standing. The most important macroeconomic effects are those that affect gross domestic product, sectoral production, the current account balance2 , indebtedness and public finances. The growing frequency and severity of weather-related events is likely to increase the financial vulnerability of many households in the SEE countries. In the future, households are likely to experience more frequent and potentially severe damages to residential properties, as well as loss of employment income due to business interruption. In view of the expected consequences of climate change, combined with the level of exposure to geological hazards, disaster risk management becomes a vital and urgent aspect of SEE country development strategies.
- World Bank