The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Executive Council has agreed a series of proposals which will ensure that the organization’s activities are aligned to the UN’s Early Warnings For All initiative.
The UN Early Warnings for All action plan was launched by António Guterres, UN secretary-general, during the World Leaders Summit at the UN 2022 Climate Change Conference, COP27, and looks to ensure that everyone on Earth is protected by Early Warning Systems (EWS) in the next five years. It calls for initial new targeted investments of US$3.1bn. The resolutions discussed by the Executive Council will now be forwarded to the decision-making World Meteorological Congress in May 2023.
Prof. Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General, said, “We have received very strong support for the Early Warnings for All initiative from developed and developing countries alike. This is a great opportunity and great challenge for our community.”
A statement by the Executive Council said, “The effective operation of the multi-hazard EWS requires an integrated and coordinated and research-supported approach to address various types of hazards, including geophysical ones such as volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides, especially in countries where such hazards are common, and sometimes occur simultaneously.”
As the official and authoritative providers of early warnings for hydrometeorological hazards, national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHS) are key to the technical implementation of the EWS initiative. WMO technical commissions will develop the supporting normative work.
WMO is one of the leaders of the initiative, which feeds into its 2030 Vision and Strategic Operating Plan, which foresees a world where all nations, especially the most vulnerable, are more resilient to the socioeconomic consequences of extreme weather, climate, water and other environmental events. It is partnering with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the International Telecommunications Union and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to advance different pillars of the initiative.
The Executive Council noted the need to address existing gaps in the global climate observing system particularly in developing countries, in view of the fact that one third of the world, including 60% of Africa, does not have access to early warning and climate information services.
Global Multi-Hazard Alert System
WMO’s Executive Council approved the rollout of the Global Multi-Hazard Alert System (GMAS), saying that “by 2025 the GMAS Framework should be recognized globally by decision makers as a resource of authoritative warnings and information related to high-impact weather, water, ocean and climate events”.
The GMAS Implementation Plan will promote efforts to strengthen members ability to issue alerts and warnings through national, regional and global capacity strengthening and by leveraging existing WMO mechanisms and infrastructure.
Support for humanitarian sector
The Executive Council agreed to further enhance the support it provides to UN humanitarian agencies through the development of the WMO Coordination Mechanism. This ensures that UN partners have access to authoritative data, information and expert advice – for instance on seasonal forecasts or high-impact weather events sharing NMHS’s information. This helps to inform anticipatory action, risk assessment and response.
Action on climate and health
The Executive Council also agreed to step up its activities to protect people from climate- and health-related hazards, including extreme heat and air pollution, as part of the drive toward improved early warnings and action.
It endorsed a new implementation plan for advancing integrated climate and health science and services over the next 10 years. This promotes a coordinated approach to manage the impact of climate, weather, air pollution, UV radiation, extreme events and other environmental factors on health.
Discussions were held to strengthen WMO hydrological activities, especially in view of the forthcoming UN Water Conference, at which WMO will play a major role. It endorsed plans for a new Global Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Infrastructure to fill critical information gaps and support action to reduce heat-trapping gases which are fueling temperature increase.