MANILA -- A senior European official said the average annual cost of natural disasters has quadrupled over the last three decades and that it makes economic sense to boost spending on preparedness.

European Commissioner Kristina Georgieva, in a disaster risk reduction conference of the Asia-Europe Meeting on Thursday, said costs related to natural disasters have increased from $50 billion a year in the 1980s to $200 billion in the last decade.

She said only 4 percent of spending for disasters today goes to prevention and preparedness, with 96 percent spent on response.

Georgieva, however, added that evidence shows every dollar spent on prevention brings at least $4 in savings on damage.

About 200 participants from 49 countries and organizations have gathered in Manila to discuss ways to increase countries' disaster resilience. (AP)