Early warning must make sense

Early warning must make sense

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Published

29 May 2015

Underscoring its importance, the governments that form the WMO congress have eyed a 7.4% budget increase, with the aim of funding climate work, disaster risk reduction and other areas such as sustainable development.

The Sendai Framework is a key element of that global agenda. Produced after three years of discussions among governments, international bodies, civil society and the business sector, it marks a major shift in approach amid spiraling economic losses from disasters and an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as superstorms.

“We’ve moved from managing disasters as events to managing the risk of disasters,” said Ms. Margareta Wahlström, head of UNISDR. “This is about prevention and reduction. And if you want to do prevention and reduction, you need to focus more on the risks than the events,” she told the session.

Ms. Wahlström said meteorological services need to be brought squarely into National Platforms – which helm countries’ disaster risk reduction activities – and that all branches of government should ensure that lines of responsibility are clear. Meteorologists also have a crucial role to play in setting disaster risk reduction standards, she added.

Mr. Elhadj As Sy, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), underlined that 75% of disasters are caused by climate-related hazards.

“We need to take the scientific information to communities in a way that’s comprehensible,” Mr. Sy told the session, noting that with 189 national societies engaging on a daily basis with their public, the IFRC has its fingers on the pulse.

“That’s the only way that early warning will make sense. But early warning and early alert, if not accompanied by early action, will not make sense either. We need to reach the most vulnerable. We need to walk the extra mile,” he said.

The WMO and national meteorological agencies are drawing up a disaster risk reduction roadmap for their sector, to complement the Sendai Framework.

Early warning is just one part of their multi-hazard, multi-disciplinary approach which takes into account not just the physical damage of weather but also issues such as health impacts, said Mr. Gavin Iley of the UK Met Office at an earlier session. “The aim really, at the end of all of this, is to increase resilience,” he said. “The Sendai Framework is a huge opportunity."

UNISDR press release

 

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