Indicator Specification

Economic losses from climate-related extremes in Europe

Indicator Specification
  Indicator codes: CSI 042 , CLIM 039
Published 17 Jan 2017 Last modified 20 Dec 2020
10 min read
This is an old version, kept for reference only.

Go to latest version
This page was archived on 20 Dec 2020 with reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/indicators/direct-losses-from-weather-disasters-4 was published)
This indicator considers the number of fatalities, and the overall and insured economic losses from climate-related disasters.

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments


Justification for indicator selection

Economic losses from weather and climate-related disasters have increased, but with large spatial and inter-annual variability. Global weather and climate-related disaster losses reported over the last few decades mainly reflect monetised direct damages to assets and are unequally distributed. Damages estimates are lower-bound because many impacts, such as loss of human lives, cultural heritage and ecosystem services are difficult to value and monetise, and are therefore poorly reflected in estimates of damages. 

Europe is experiencing an increasing number of hydro-meteorological, geophysical and technological disasters that are caused by a combination of changes in its physical, technological and human/social systems. The potential for a hazard to cause a disaster depends mainly on how vulnerable an exposed community is to such hazards. Actions and measures, if well implemented, can reduce the human-health and economic impacts of a hazardous event. In recent years, policies for disaster risk reduction and management have shifted to a comprehensive, integrated risk approach. The full disaster cycle — prevention, preparedness, response and recovery — should be taken into consideration. Adaptation to climate change and disaster risk management provides a range of complementary approaches for managing the risks of climate extremes and disasters.

The terms 'disaster damages', 'disaster losses' and 'costs of disasters' are not always clearly distinguished. In this report, the term 'damage' is used to refer to physical damage (e.g. destroyed infrastructure) (OEIWG, 2016), while the term 'loss' is used to refer to economic losses. Economic losses can be further distinguished into direct losses (which largely correspond to the costs of physical damage) and indirect losses (such as the economic impacts of business interruption) (OECD, 2014; JRC, 2015; IRDR, 2015). The disaster loss data included in the global databases underlying this section focus on direct economic losses as well as on human impacts.

The data and information from this indicator is used by Eurostat as part of a detailed description of the situation in relation to the 17 SDGs in an EU context, and more specific on SDG13 on climate change (

Scientific references

  • EEA (2011): Mapping the impacts of natural hazards and technological accidents in Europe EEA Technical report No 13/2010. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen
  • Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Barros, V.R., C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L.White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 688.
  • OECD, 2014 OECD, 2014,Improving the evidence base on the costs of disasters: Towards an OECD framework for accounting risk management expenditures and losses of disasters. 4th meeting of the OECD High Level Risk Forum, GOV/PGC/HLRF(2014)8, OECD.
  • JRC, 2015 JRC, 2015,Guidance for Recording and Sharing Disaster Damage and Loss Data: Towards the development of operational indicators to translate the Sendai Framework into action, JRC Science and Policy Reports, Joint Research Centre, Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen and the EU expert working group on disaster damage and loss data, Ispra.
  • IRDR, 2015 IRDR, 2015,Guidelines on Measuring Losses from Disasters: Human and Economic Impact Indicators, DATA Project Report No. 2, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Programme, Beijing.
  • OEIWG, 2016  Report of the Open-ended intergovernmental expert working group on indicators and terminology relating to disaster risk reduction (Geneva, 29-30 September 2015, 10-11 February 2016 and 15 & 18 November 2016)

Indicator definition

This indicator considers the number of fatalities, and the overall and insured economic losses from climate-related disasters.


The units used in this indicator are the number of events, and damages in euros (2015 Euro value).


Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2013, the European Commission presented the EU Adaptation Strategy Package ( This package consisted of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change (COM/2013/0216 final) and a number of supporting documents. One of the objectives of the adaptation strategy is better informed decision-making, which should occur through bridging the knowledge gap and further developing Climate-ADAPT as the 'one-stop shop' for adaptation information in Europe. Further objectives include promoting action by Member States and climate-proofing EU action, i.e. promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors. Many EU Member States have already taken action, such as by adopting national adaptation strategies, and several have also prepared action plans on climate change adaptation.

The European Commission and the EEA have developed the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT, to share knowledge on observed and projected climate change and its impacts on environmental and social systems and human health; on relevant research; on EU, national and sub-national adaptation strategies and plans; and on adaptation case studies.

Article 6 of Decision No. 1313/2013/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of 17 December 2013 on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism obliges the EU Member States to develop risk assessments at national or appropriate sub-national levels and to make a summary of the relevant elements thereof available to the Commission by 22 December 2015 and every 3 years thereafter.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (UN, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 A/CONF.224/CRP.1. 18 March 2015, 2015), under Priority 1 (Understanding disaster risk), requires that the signatory countries systematically evaluate, record, share and publicly account for disaster losses and understand the economic impacts at national and sub-national levels.

In September 2016, the EC presented an indicative road map for the evaluation of the EU Adaptation Strategy by 2018.

In November 2013, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the Seventh EU Environment Action Programme (7th EAP) to 2020, 'Living well, within the limits of our planet'. The 7th EAP is intended to help guide EU action on the environment and climate change up to and beyond 2020. It highlights that 'action to mitigate and adapt to climate change will increase the resilience of the Union’s economy and society, while stimulating innovation and protecting the Union’s natural resources.' Consequently, several priority objectives of the 7th EAP refer to climate change adaptation.


The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) sets a target of reducing direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030, compared with 2005-2015 baselines. The European Union and all member countries of the EEA have endorsed the SFDRR.

Related policy documents

  • Climate-ADAPT: Adaptation in EU policy sectors
    Overview of EU sector policies in which mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change is ongoing or explored
  • Climate-ADAPT: Country profiles
    Overview of activities of EEA member countries in preparing, developing and implementing adaptation strategies
  • Decision No 1313/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism
    The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was set up to enable coordinated assistance from the participating states to victims of natural and man-made disasters in Europe and elsewhere. The European Commission supports and complements the prevention and preparedness efforts of participating states, focusing on areas where a joint European approach is more effective than separate national actions. These include improving the quality of and accessibility to disaster information, encouraging research to promote disaster resilience, and reinforcing early warning tools.
  • DG CLIMA: Adaptation to climate change
    Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise. It has been shown that well planned, early adaptation action saves money and lives in the future. This web portal provides information on all adaptation activities of the European Commission.
  • EU Adaptation Strategy Package
    In April 2013, the European Commission adopted an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change, which has been welcomed by the EU Member States. The strategy aims to make Europe more climate-resilient. By taking a coherent approach and providing for improved coordination, it enhances the preparedness and capacity of all governance levels to respond to the impacts of climate change.

Key policy question

What is the trend in economic losses from climate-related extremes in Europe?



Methodology for indicator calculation

This assessment is based on the Munich Re NatCatSERVICE dataset and the Eurostat collection of economic indicators (5), whereas data from earlier years not covered by Eurostat have been completed using data from the Annual Macro-Economic Database of the European Commission (AMECO), the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook (WEO), the Total Economy Database (TED) and the World Bank database.

Data are received from the Munich Re NatCatSERVICE under institutional agreement and have been adjusted to account for inflation. They are presented in EUR 2015 values.

Definition of a loss event: the event can occur in several countries; events are counted by country and by category of natural hazard.

The European Commission is working with Member States, the ISDR and other international organisations to improve data on disaster losses. The JRC has prepared guidance for recording and sharing disaster damage and loss data, status and best practices for disaster loss data recording in EU Member States and recommendations for a European approach for recording  disaster losses. Once comparable national databases on disaster losses are available for all EU Member States and EEA member countries and these data are reported, this EEA indicator can possibly be based on such data. 

The analysis reported here includes all EEA Member States and Turkey, including that part of the country that is classified by NatCatSERVICE as not belonging to Europe. This is why the results reported here may be slightly different to data reported by Munich Re itself.


Methodology for gap filling

The value of economic loss has not been corrected, other than for the relatively small inconsistencies that have been removed in agreement with Munich Re. The economic data for damage normalisation were taken from Eurostat, and where the Eurostat data series did not cover the entire period, the gaps were filled with the data from AMECO (Annual macro-economic database of the European Commission), the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or by reasoned expert opinion. 

Methodology references


Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures



Methodology uncertainty

Not applicable

Data sets uncertainty

Information for Europe can be extracted from two global disaster databases, namely the EMDAT database maintained by CRED (1) that places a particular focus on human fatalities, and displaced and affected people, and the NatCatSERVICE database maintained by Munich Re that provides data on insured and overall losses (used in this indicator). The 'disaster thresholds' for an event to be included in these global databases are as follows:

  • EMDAT: 10 or more people killed and/or 100 or more people affected and/or declaration of a state of emergency and/or call for international assistance;
  • NatCatSERVICE: Small-scale property damage and/or one fatality. Additionally, Munich Re uses different classes to classify the events.

Over recent years, these global databases have been harmonised, although some differences remain. During recent decades both databases have improved their reporting, which means that caution is needed in formulating conclusions about trends. In addition, both databases are less suitable for analysing the impacts of smaller events or for analysis at the sub-national level. However, despite these considerations, both databases serve as a good starting point for getting an overview of the impact and damage costs of disasters in Europe.

Further information on uncertainties is provided in the EEA report on Climate change, impacts, and vulnerability in Europe 2016 (


[1] See online.

Rationale uncertainty

Not applicable.

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Wouter Vanneuville


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
CSI 042
CLIM 039
Version id: 4

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year


DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Document Actions