2012 saw continued economic growth in much of Asia, with Southeast Asia now considered (by some accounts) to be the world’s fastest growing economy. But, like China, as the countries of the region experience growth, they are also going through more natural disasters.

According to a recent report by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the Philippines experienced the second greatest number of natural disasters under a 10-month period starting at the beginning of the year. Sixteen disasters hit the Philippines, trailing only China, which experienced 18. These figures don’t even include typhoon Bopha, which struck the Philippines in early December, resulting in over 1,000 dead and 800 still missing.

Asia as a whole suffered greatly from natural disasters this year and with heavy economic repercussions.

Flood damage in Mindanao, Philippines, pic: Mathias Eick EU/ECHO

From Xinhua:

According to the report, the toll on the economy of the calamities that occurred in Asia in 2012 exceeded 10 billion U.S. dollars and that future disasters may represent a serious threat to the region’s otherwise healthy economies. A total of 83 disasters hit Asia from January to October of this year, leaving some 3,103 people killed and some 15.1 billion U.S. dollars in damages. About 64.5 million people were affected by these disasters across the region.

After such a year, and still in the aftermath of typhoon Bopha, concern about the environment is naturally increasing in the Philippines, largely connected to climate change and the protection of forestland. A poll by Pulse Asia shows reasonably strong approval ratings of government environmental programs in the country.

From the Philippine Star:

The poll, conducted from Nov. 23 to 29 among 1,200 respondents, showed that protecting the environment was among the national issues that received majority approval ratings. The government’s campaign to stop the destruction and abuse of the environment gained an approval rating of +60 percent, a 10 percent increase compared to last September.

A rise in pollution, particularly from cars and industry, also has negative environmental and health implications in Asia, with knock-on economic effects. I recently posted about this in regards to China and India. The Indian capital of New Delhi is a stark example.

From the New York Times:

What is going on in New Delhi reflects a larger trend. A recent study published in the medical journal Lancet shows air pollution has become a major health risk in developing countries, contributing to about 3.2 million premature deaths worldwide. South Asian countries are particularly vulnerable, the study found.

Pollution in Beijing, pic: Gérard Métrailler