“Today, one third of the world’s people, mainly in least developed countries and small island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems... This is unacceptable, particularly with climate impacts sure to get even worse. Early warnings and action save lives. To that end, today I announce the United Nations will spearhead new action to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years. I have asked the World Meteorological Organization to lead this effort and to present an action plan at the next UN climate conference, later this year in Egypt.”
- UN Secretary-General António Guterres on World Meteorological Day 23 March 2022
|Download the publication|
Early Warning Systems are a proven, effective, and feasible climate adaptation measure, that save lives[i], and provide a tenfold return on investment[ii]. The WMO State of the Global Climate 2021 report[iii] shows that extreme weather events (floods, drought, heatwaves, storms, etc.) led to hundreds of billions of dollars of economic losses and wreaked a heavy toll on human lives and wellbeing. The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability recognized early warning systems and disaster risk management activities as key cross-cutting adaptation options, that enhance the benefits of other adaptation measures when combined[iv].
And yet, major gaps in early warning systems remain, especially in developing countries. Furthermore, there is a global incapacity to translate early warnings into early action. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has tasked WMO with spearheading action to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years. COP27 in Egypt will move the focus from promises and pledges to action on the ground. The practicality and implementability of early warning systems make them an ideal focus area for COP27. The UN Water Conference, the Mid-term Review of the Sendai Framework, the 2023 SDG Summit, and the UN Future Summit and COP28 all present additional key opportunities to advance implementation of risk-informed early warnings and early action to enable future preparedness.
Figure 1. Graphical presentation of a Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (MHEWS)
The four components of an early warning system.