Multi-Hazard Early Warning Conference: scaling up action

The World Meteorological Organization together with the Indonesia Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) and a wide range of partners are sponsoring a major international conference designed to boost action and build resilience against major hazards that cause billions in economic losses and claim thousands of lives each year.

The Third Multi-Hazard Early Warning Conference (MHEWCIII) takes place in Bali, Indonesia from 23 to 24 May as a preparatory event for the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. Its theme is “From Stock Take to Scaling Actions on Target G: Accelerating the Knowledge and Practice of Early Warning Systems for Risk Informed Resilience”.

Target G, one of the seven targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, is a commitment by countries to substantially increase the availability of and access to multi‑hazard early warning systems. now at its mid-way point between 2015-2030.

“This conference provides a unique opportunity to review key accomplishments, share skills, experience, and expertise within an active network of early warning practitioners,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas in a recorded message to the opening session.

More than 2000 participants have registered for the hybrid event, organized in conjunction with the International Network for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (IN-MHEWS) to the Multi-Hazard Early Warning Conference, a hybrid event. It will be opened by WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas, UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Mami Mizutori and Prof. Dwikorita Karnawati, head of the Indonesian weather agency, BMKG.

The event will be closed by Amina Mohammed, Deputy-Secretary General of the United Nations and global advocate for sustainable development and poverty reduction causes.

Leading experts from both developed and developing countries will exchange on topical issues such as the needs and gaps to ensure that countries are able to monitor, predict and issue warnings for the main hazards affecting their populations and economies.

Multi-Hazard Early Warning Conference, Bali

The focus will also be on how to ensure that people are at the center of the systems being developed, with sessions on governance and inclusive early warnings; early warning systems driven by risk information and the importance of gender mainstreaming. Discussion will also cover how to engage the private sector as well as looking at innovations and the next generation of forecasting and warning systems.

MHEWCIII takes place just as humanitarian needs are at record high because of climate change impacts, conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement issued by the G7 group of Foreign Ministers, on 13 May said that in order to bridge the growing financing gap and protect hard-won development gains, a paradigm shift towards more efficient, effective and forward-looking humanitarian assistance is needed.

“We seek to maximize synergies with the work on climate risk within the G7 development track. We furthermore welcome and support the UN Secretary-General’s target to have within the next five years, everyone on Earth protected by early warning systems against increasingly extreme weather and climate change. We recognize the importance of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems initiative (CREWS) in achieving that goal. We look forward to seeing the action plan to be prepared by the World Meteorological Organization at the COP27 in Egypt, ” said the

statement.

Global coverage

United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres recently called on the UN to spearhead new action to ensure every person on Earth is protected by Early Warning Systems within five years. He asked WMO to lead this effort and to present an action plan to achieve this goal at the next UN climate conference, later this year in Egypt.

“Achieving global coverage of early warning systems will only be possible if all actors across the early warning to early action value cycle raise their ambition and accelerate action together,” said Prof. Taalas.

WMO is proposing three key focus areas to meet this goal, 1) Enhancing risk understanding through Earth System Observation and social science Monitoring, 2) Predictive and warning capabilities, and 3) Coordinated communication and incentive structures for anticipatory action.

We first need to collectively develop a better understanding of the global status of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems, across the full early warning to early action value cycle across all time scales.

Building on this analysis, WMO will work with partners, including donors and key development agencies already active in hydromet and early warning development, to conduct a mapping of existing and planned global multi-hazards early warning system efforts. This mapping will help to identify outstanding gaps and areas of focus for the next five years.

“The Third Multi-Hazard Early Warning Conference, is a vital opportunity to review progress, share expertise, and a first occasion to exchange with key partners and countries to identify opportunities to accelerate early warning system implementation for the protection of lives and livelihoods everywhere,” he said.

Mortality and economic losses

The need for multi-hazard early warnings was highlighted by a WMO report in 2021 that showed that a disaster related to a weather, climate or water hazard occurred every day on average over the past 50 years – killing 115 people and causing US$ 202 million in losses daily.

The number of disasters has increased by a factor of five over the 50-year period, driven by climate change, more extreme weather and improved reporting. But, thanks to improved early warnings and disaster management, the number of deaths decreased almost three-fold.

MHEWC

According to the WMO Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970 – 2019), there were more than 11 000 reported disasters attributed to these hazards globally, with just over 2 million deaths and US$ 3.64 trillion in losses.

Climate Risk and Early Warnings Initiative

The poor remain particularly vulnerable to hazards.

One of the showcases of MHEWCIII will be the release of the annual report of the Climate Risk and Early Warnings Systems Initiative (CREWS). The report showcases achievements in over 44 LDCs and SIDS to saves lives, assets and livelihoods through increased access to early weather warnings and risk information.

The CREWS Trust Fund has invested over US$ 75 million in projects in LDCs and SIDS – and has mobilized an additional US$ 270 million from public funds of other development partners. WMO implements projects funded through the CREWS Trust Fund.

CREWS is helping finance MHEWSIII.

The event will be livestreamed on YouTube.

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