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MEIG Highlights, Latest News 24 juin 2022

Highlight 39/2022 – Why Early Warnings Go Beyond Just “Climate”?

Vidhya Kumarswamy, 24 June 2022

Source: UNESCO, https://en.unesco.org/disaster-risk-reduction/early-warning-systems

Considering the multi-hazard world that we live in today, and the disasters that are a result of such hazards, it is inevitable that every person in the world needs to be covered under disaster risk reduction and risk resilience building strategies. One such strategy includes Early Warning System (EWS).

What are Early Warning Systems (EWS)?

It is a climate related adaptive measure. It is an integrated system that monitors, predicts and forecasts climate-related hazardous events, like flood, heatwaves, droughts, etc., and the findings are communicated to help people in order to prepare and take measures against such events.

EWS are a step towards climate-related risk resilience building and disaster risk reduction. However, the results stemming from the existence of EWS go beyond just the efforts towards climate related risk-resilience building and disaster risk reduction. With extreme weather and climate conditions bound to worsen in the coming years, it is imperative every person needs to be covered by EWS. This is not just to achieve sustainable development, but also to contribute towards the action called for by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on the World Meteorological Day, 2022.

The establishment of EWS contributes towards reducing deaths and the number of people affected by climate hazards, and also towards reducing economic losses caused by climate disasters. This purpose aligns with one of the SDGs’ targets – 11.5. Additionally, it is also consistent with another SDGs’ target – 13.1.

Although EWS directly contribute towards achieving these targets related to climate, directly, they also contribute towards achieving other targets under the SDGs. Extremely changing weather and climate conditions disproportionally and adversely impact the poor and vulnerable, thus, worsening their economic conditions, and pushing them into more poverty-stricken conditions. EWS play a significant role in reducing people’s exposure to climate hazards and disasters, especially the poor and vulnerable people, thus, reducing the possibilities of them being pushed further into poverty, which contributes to the SDG target – 1.5. Food security, today, is threatened inter alia by extreme weather and climate changes. EWS play a very significant role in warning people of any possible drought or floods, thus, contributing to people’s preparedness to take measures for food security. This aligns with SDG target – 2.4.

In order to build, develop, and strengthen EWS so that they are beneficial for the people who need them the most, many initiatives undertake their projects and investments in a way that ensures the inclusion of certain guiding principles and policies from the initial stage to the follow-up stage. These, directly or indirectly, contribute to other SDGs.

Let’s take the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative, for example. The CREWS Initiative is a financing mechanism that funds Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) for developing, establishing, and strengthening risk informed early warning services by significantly increasing the capacity to generate and communicate effective impact-based, multi-hazard, gender-informed, early warnings and risk information to protect lives, livelihoods, and assets. The Initiative has a set of principles that guide their project development. One of the principles is gender-sensitive response. This principle guides the Initiative to undertake its projects by involving women’s participation, thus, contributing to SDG 5. Another principle is people-centered early warnings, whereby CREWS develops EWS with the people from the local communities’ participation as they are the ones who most require warnings. The incorporation of this principle contributes towards SDG 16. Additionally, the implementation of the Initiative’s projects is a result of the coordinated effort of partnerships between several organizations – international, regional, national and local. This aligns with the SDG 17.

Therefore, EWS’ role in achieving and contributing towards the SDGs beyond “climate” cannot be neglected. This is even more so considering the ongoing, and predicted extreme weather and climate conditions’ impact have been, and will be severely adverse beyond just seasons and weathers.

Vidhya Kumarswamy, Highlight 39/2022 – Why Early Warnings Go Beyond Just “Climate”?, 24 June 2022, available at www.meig.ch

The views expressed in the MEIG Highlights are personal to the author and neither reflect the positions of the MEIG Programme nor those of the University of Geneva.

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