A WMO-led research project named MedEWSa, funded by the European Commission’s Horizon Programme, has been launched to help protect citizens and infrastructure and improve disaster response mechanisms right across the Europe-Mediterranean-North African region.
According to the organization, the densely populated Mediterranean basin region is warming more rapidly than global average rates. It is increasingly subject to a range of devastating extreme weather and climate events like floods, wildfires and droughts, which in recent years have caused major loss of life, infrastructure damage and economic shocks.
The MedEWSa project started this month and will run for three years. With €5m (US$5.5m) of funding from Horizon Europe, it will develop a connected system of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) to support first responders and facilitate informed decision making by governments and civil society organizations. In doing so, it is expected to directly contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, improve the European Union’s competitiveness and growth, and protect citizens of the EU and beyond.
Prof. Jürg Luterbacher, chief scientist and director of science and innovation at WMO and MedEWSa project coordinator, said, “MedEWSa is perfectly aligned, in both its overall mission and schedule, with the 2022 call by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to protect everyone on Earth with early warning systems (EWS) by the end of 2027. The project will hopefully make a substantial contribution to WMO’s involvement and activities supporting implementation of the #earlywarningsforall Initiative. We are already hard at work with our superb team of partners and look forward to ensuring that all citizens in the region are better warned of, and able to respond to, any extreme events that may occur in the future.”
The MedEWSa project emphasizes the importance of research and multi-stakeholder collaboration in increasing Mediterranean and European countries’ operational EWS capabilities. It aims to enhance collaboration, research, innovation and the dissemination of knowledge and technologies in support of EU policies addressing global challenges. Central to MedEWSa is a suite of pairs of pilot sites, or ‘twins’, that highlight discrepancies in coverage and capabilities and that foster collaboration and demonstrate the transferability of MedEWSa’s tools.
The four twins are: Attica in Greece with National Parks in Ethiopia to study wildfires and extreme weather events like droughts and wind; Venice in Italy with Alexandria and the Nile Delta in Egypt to look at coastal floods and storm surges; Kosice in Slovakia with Tbilisi in Georgia to research floods and landslides; and Catalonia in Spain with a countrywide Sweden study to analyze heatwaves, droughts and wildfires.
The main objectives of MedEWSa are to: provide multi-hazard information and conduct risk analysis; contribute to impact-based forecasting; develop a fully integrated impact-based Multi-Hazard Early Warning System; use AI-based decision-support solutions to enhance multi-hazard impact prediction; and develop innovative financial solutions through risk transfer to capital markets, including Insurance-Linked Securities and parametric insurance.
With 30 partners across the region, project members include WMO, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, the African Union, the Red Cross Climate Centre, academia, research institutions, small and medium-size enterprises, and broad cohort of civil society, government, private sector and first responder organizations.
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