Climate Community Development

Early warning systems save vulnerable communities from climate disasters

Scenes at the Launch of Early Warnings for All Executive Action Plan

The availability of early warning systems saves vulnerable communities from climate disasters, Mr. Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has said.

He delivered the remarks at the launch of the Early Warnings for All Executive Action Plan Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt.

As it stands, he said vulnerable communities in climate hotspots are being blindsided by cascading climate disasters without any means of prior alert. People in Africa, South Asia, South, and Central America, and the inhabitants of small island states are 15 times more likely to die from climate disasters.

Disasters displace three times more people than war and the situation is getting worse as those who have contributed least to the climate crisis are the most at risk and the least protected.

“That is why, in March this year, I announced the target of ensuring that every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years. Universal early warning coverage can save lives and deliver huge financial benefits. Just 24 hour’s notice of an impending hazardous event can cut damage by 30 percent. And yet, around the world, vulnerable communities have no way of knowing that hazardous weather is on its way.

“Nor do they have the means to act to save lives and protect livelihoods. Half of the world lacks multi-hazard early warning systems. Even fewer have climate resilience measures and local disaster preparedness plans. Countries with limited early warning coverage have disaster mortality eight times higher than countries with high coverage. The Action Plan launched sets out the way forward to right this wrong, and protect lives and livelihoods,” the UN Secretary-General said.

There was a promise that the United Nations system, governments, and partners will work together, through policy, scientific and technical, and financial action tracks to achieve the goal within five years.

With an initial investment of about $3.1 billion dollars, stakeholders will be able to address gaps across the four key pillars of early warning systems – understanding disaster risk; monitoring and forecasting; rapid communication; and preparedness and response capacity.

“To ensure the effective implementation of this plan, I have asked the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction to co-lead an Advisory Board. The Board will provide strategic guidance to countries with existing early warning systems and help establish systems in vulnerable countries to reduce loss and damage.

“It will report on progress annually. I thank the many UN agencies and partners who have worked closely on this Executive Action Plan and all those who will be critical for its implementation. I urge all governments, financial institutions, and civil society to support this effort to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement,” Mr. Guterres said.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende