Australia is being urged to do more to help reduce the risk of natural disasters as floods, fires and cyclones get bigger and more intense around the globe.
The call from the Australian Red Cross comes as a new report shows that 32,550 people, including 16 Australians, were killed as the result of disasters in 2015.
Australian Red Cross chief executive Judy Slatyer says there is growing evidence that investing in early warning systems and disaster preparation can save lives.
“Preparing for floods, fires, cyclones and all disasters must become normal, like wearing a seat belt in a car,” she said.
Ms Slatyer said the Red Cross wants to see Australia step up its investment in disaster risk reduction programs to help communities here and overseas.
“Globally just one out of eight dollars spent on disasters goes towards reducing risks,” she said.
“It’s time to build resilience by rebalancing the way we invest in aid and mitigate the effect of disasters.”
The latest annual World Disasters Report released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Wednesday found that during 2015 more than 108 million people were affected by 574 disasters, including two devastating earthquakes in Nepal where more than 9000 people died.
The damage bill from the earthquakes, floods, landslides and heatwaves was $92.5 billion.
The Asia Pacific region had the most disasters, accounting for 43 per cent of the world’s total and three out of five disaster-related deaths.
In Australia, 8655 people were affected by disasters, including the The Sampson Flat bushfire in the Adelaide Hills that was the worst to hit South Australia since the 1983 Ash Wednesday blaze.
A large bushfire near Northcliffe, south of Perth, also burned more than 80,0000 hectares of forest and private land, while 12 areas around Sydney and Newcastle in NSW were declared natural disaster zones after the devastating storms and floods.
The report says that natural disasters are becoming bigger and more frequent, partly as a result of climate change and more people living in dangerous places.
It urged governments, businesses, local communities and humanitarian groups to work together on disaster resilience so people can bounce back faster from devastating events.
Better building codes, urban planning and infrastructure was also crucial to help reduce exposure to future hazards.
The report noted that while in the two decades to 2010, $US13.6 billion ($A18 billion) was spent on disaster risk reduction, there were more than 8600 disasters in poorer countries alone that caused $US846 billion ($A1.1 trillion) of financial losses.
“There is no longer a choice: investments pre-disaster must now be taken more seriously, to stem the steady increase in the number of crises,” the report said.
“Communities that implement effective disaster risk reduction and climate change adaption measures may be better protected against displacement if disaster strikes.”