Are there lessons to be learned from the recent disasters at the global scale? Are the numbers of disasters increasing and is their impact more severe? Is there a difference to be established among hazard exposure and the resilience, fragility and brittleness of humanmade vulnerabilities? How do countries and societies manage risk, transfer it or disperse it. This document will not answer all of these questions, but they have come to the forefront after the tsunami in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean hurricane season, both in terms of the outcome of the 2004 and the perspective for 2005. Furthermore, these questions beg for a link to more global issues such as sustainable development, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and the increasing evidence of serious impacts associated with climate variability, climate change and the vulnerabilities to extreme events. This document -which reflects the author's personal involvement in conducting and supporting disaster assessment missions using the ECLAC methodology for the socioeconomic and environmental assessment of disasters- first indicates (section I) the differentiated impact that recent events such as the tsunami and hurricanes have on different countries, sectors, communities and localities. Section II provides examples, going into some detail on the 26 December tsunami, and Section III tackles the impact of the 2004 hurricane season in the Caribbean. The final section (IV) offers some personal conclusions and possible policy proposals as food for thought and further discussion. An appendix presents a summary brief description of the conceptual framework, components and results expected of the ECLAC methodology for the socioeconomic and environmental impact of disasters.