Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems initiative brings message of hope

Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems initiative brings message of hope

In a year overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic fallout, 2021 nevertheless saw progress towards in strengthening early warning services and building resilience to extreme weather and climate change impacts in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.

This is one of the key messages of the 2021 Annual Report of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative (CREWS), a unique climate action programme that helps saves lives, livelihoods and assets in the world’s most vulnerable countries.

The report “Delivering on Early Warning Systems in Fragility and Conflict Contexts showcased achievements in strengthening hydro-meteorological services and early warnings even in the most difficult situations.

“The 2021 CREWS Annual Report should give hope. The creativity and versatility of national, regional, and implementing partners (the World Meteorological Organization, the World Bank Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and the United Nations Offce for Disaster Risk Reduction) allowed us to find solutions in complex crises and show our added value time and again,” said Stéphane Crouzat, French Climate Ambassador and Chair of the CREWS Steering Committee.

“As global challenges mount, so does the case for investment in early warning. This report illustrates numerous and different ways CREWS projects are laying the foundations for potentially profound change. Together, we must build on these. By putting shoulder to the wheel, the rewards will be incalculable,” wrote Mr Crouzat in the report foreword.

The Annual Report was launched on 24 May at an event in the margins of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Bali, Indonesia. It was hosted by MamiCREWS Annual report 2021 Mizutori, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.  It was attended by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Action Selwin Hart.

“We need to scale up support for those on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Initiatives like CREWS deliver concrete results to those who need it most. One in three persons in a SIDS or LDC and six out of ten persons in Africa don’t have access to early warning systems. We have to collaborate and cooperate like we’ve never done before,” said Mr Hart.

“While years of disaster preparedness investment means we are better at saving lives, economic losses continue to increase. Early Warning Systems are critically required for climate adaptation, yet less than half of WMO Members have them. The UN Secretary-General has asked WMO to spearhead new action to ensure every person is protected by early warning systems within five years. CREWS will play an essential role in helping us reach this target and protect the most vulnerable,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

The report launch event highlighted the vital support of the financial contributors. CREWS members are Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Canada is also supporting CREWS projects. It also presented the findings of the recently finalized project funded by Environment Canada and aligned with CREWS. Representatives from Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States gave testimony on how CREWS projects protect lives and livelihoods on the ground.

The Annual Report, outlines how CREWS partners adapt and seek solutions to deliver results in conflict and fragile countries. Currently, 19 countries benefitting from CREWS national investments and regional projects, are on the World Bank’s list of Fragile and Conflict Situations. A number that will rise further, when pipeline projects become operational.

Examples include:

In Afghanistan’s highly food insecure situation, reorientating project-developed tools helped aid and humanitarian agencies reach millions of people

In Haiti, Chad, Mali and Niger, progress was made despite multiple and simultaneous crises. These and other West African countries showed investment in institutional capacity building was paying off as weather services improved during uncertain times. They also pushed forward on engaging and empowering women on disaster risk management. Organic and formal women leaders’ networks are now emerging to mobilize and warn communities before disaster strikes.

A new initiative for Cambodia and Lao PDR will help strengthen climate adaptation and disaster resilience, building on previous Canadian-funded CREWS support for two of Asia’s most disaster-prone countries.

CREWS took its first steps in implementing our five-year operational plan – Delivering at Scale 2021-2025. Through our partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), best practices for people-centred operations were identified. Work began on the Accelerated Support Window, a rapid financing system for quick and targeted high priority assistance to be launched in 2022.

“Sustained Member support underlines the criticality of CREWS’ mandate and impact: our funding rose by 17% in 2021 through additional contributions from several donors. We also initiated private sector and insurance industry engagement, while various institutional diagnostics carried out across projects included alternative investment plans for sustainability,” wrote Mr Crouzat in the foreword.

Nevertheless, our resource mobilization efforts will need stepping up to meet longer-term objectives and needs, the priority being to raise USD 95 million to meet our target of an additional USD 107 million by 2025.

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