One in three people not adequately covered by Early Warning Systems

Climate Change; Marine Species to Loss Habitat Ranges

Over the past 50 years, climate and water related disasters have increased five times and the economic losses have increased by a factor of seven even as the average deaths has fallen by a third, according to a new multi-agency report.

More than 11,000 disasters have been attributed to weather, climate and water-related hazards, involving two million deaths and 3.6 trillion dollar in economic losses, according to the report  “2020 State of Climate Services: Move from Early Warnings to Early Action”.

Though Extreme weather and climate events have increased in frequency, one in three people are still not adequately covered by early warning systems, the report noted.

The report produced by 16 international agencies and financing institutions said that around 108 million people required help from the international humanitarian system as a result of storms, floods, droughts and wildfires in 201. But this number could increase by almost 50 per cent at a cost of around 20 billion dollars a year by 2030,the report said. .

The 2020 Climate Services report looks into where and how governments can invest in effective early warning systems. It said that the countries should shift to impact-based forecasting, It should say “what “the weather will do” rather than say  “what the weather will be”. This will help the people to act early.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said “Early warning systems (EWS) constitute a prerequisite for effective disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Being prepared and able to react at the right time, in the right place, can save many lives and protect the livelihoods of communities everywhere,”

He said that that climate change will continue to pose an on-going and increasing threat to human lives, ecosystems, economies and societies for centuries to come. The WMO Secretary General said that recovery from COVID-19 pandemic was an opportunity to move forward along a more sustainable path towards resilience and adaptation in the light of climate change.

The report said that nearly 90 percent of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States gave top priority to Early Warning Systems. However, the report pointed out that many of them lack the necessary capacity and financial investment into the areas where investment was most needed.

The organisations said that Small Island Developing States had lost 153 billion dollars due to weather, climate and water related hazards since 1970. They said that this was a significant amount given that the average GDP for SIDS is 13.7 billion dollars. Meanwhile, 1.4 million people (70% of the total deaths) in Least Developed Countries lost their lives in the same period.

Warning Systems

The report notes that only 40 per cent of the 138 WMO members who provided data had Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS).It said this showed one in three people globally were still not covered by early warnings. Only 75 WMO Members (39 per cent) reported that they provide impact-based forecasting services, the report added.

The organisations in the report said that dissemination of warnings was weak in many developing countries. The advances in communication technologies were also not fully exploited to reach out to people at risk, especially in LDCs, they added.

Strategic Recommendations

  • Invest to fill the early warning systems capacity gaps, particularly in African LDCs and SIDS.
  • Focus investment on turning early warning information into early action.
  • Ensure sustainable financing of the global observing system that underpins early warnings.
  • Track finance flows to improve understanding of where these resources are being allocated in relation to EWS implementation needs and what impact this is having.
  • Develop more consistency in monitoring and evaluation to better determine early warning systems effectiveness.
  • Fill the data gaps, particularly in SIDS.




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