Disaster impacts are increasing in severity. Annual direct losses for weather-related events have increased from $3.9 million in the 1950s to $63 million in the 1990s. Moreover, a number of ongoing trends have the potential to cause even more severe and broader disaster impacts than ever before. These include increased environmental degradation, the impacts of climate change, population growth in cities, and globalization. In developing countries, disasters can cause major setbacks to economic and social development, inflict massive casualties, and cause the diversion of funds from development to emergency relief and recovery. By applying innovative approaches to disaster risk reduction and by empowering people through effective disaster reduction strategies, communities and government will be more resilient when disaster strikes and better able to protect their lives, homes, livelihoods and assets.