At the UN Climate Ambition Summit in New York on September 20, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) announced the development of a large-scale, collaborative push to establish life-saving early warning systems in some of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries.
An initial injection of US$1.3m from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will be used to kick-start a much larger initiative aimed at delivering US$157m from the GCF and partner governments to move toward universal early warnings for all. As part of the announcement, UNDP and its partners appealed for other donors to join forces, growing the initiative beyond the first group of countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Cambodia, Chad, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji and Somalia.
Designed by UNDP, the WMO, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and targeting finance from the GCF – with other donors expected to come on board – the project is a key contribution to realizing the UN secretary-general’s Early Warnings for All initiative.
The initiative is an ambitious push to ensure everyone on Earth is protected from hazardous weather, water and climate events through life-saving early warning systems by the end of 2027.
The UN secretary-general’s special advisor on climate action and just transition, Selwin Hart said, “Early warning systems are effective and proven tools to save lives and protect the livelihoods of those on the frontlines of climate crisis. Yet those that have contributed least to the climate crisis lack coverage. Six out of every 10 persons in Africa are not covered by an early warning system. No effort should be spared to deliver on the ambitious but achievable goal set by the secretary-general to ensure universal early warning systems coverage by 2027.”
According to the WMO, extreme weather, climate and water-related events caused 11,778 reported disasters between 1970 and 2021, with just over two million deaths and US$4.3tn in economic losses. By 2050 the global economy may lose up to 14% (US$23tn) on account of climate change.
The benefits of multihazard early warning systems are considerable. Just 24 hours’ notice of a hazardous event can cut the ensuing damage by 30%. Countries with substantive-to-comprehensive early warning coverage experience disaster mortality rates eight times lower than countries with limited coverage.
Half of the countries worldwide, however, are not protected by multihazard early warning systems, nor do they have protocols and resources in place to deal with climate extremes and hazards.
The new six-year project will help Antigua and Barbuda, Cambodia, Chad, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji and Somalia develop their own projects while assisting at least 20 other vulnerable countries with technical and financial support from the GCF and Early Warnings for All partners.
The implementing partners will tailor their support based on country needs, and focus on enhancing national and community capacities, contributing to the global knowledge base, and developing timely and easily accessible climate information for communities to make practical decisions, such as when to evacuate ahead of a cyclone or flood, or how to mitigate the impact of an impending drought.
The project will closely coordinate with and build on other efforts currently supporting the Early Warnings for All goals, such as the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF), a new UN fund co-created by the WMO, UNDP and UNEP that provides support to close today’s major weather and climate data gaps. It will also help link participating countries with international institutions for sustainable financing and technical support.
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