Disaster risk reduction in the Pacific has been given a boost by the establishment of a new multi-hazard early warning system sub-regional hub in Papua New Guinea.
It was inaugurated at the third regional integrated multi-hazard early warning systems (RIMES) ministerial conference in Port Moresby on 25 August, attended by ministers from throughout the region.
“Over the last four decades, the financial costs and damages of natural hazards have been escalating. While our risks are continuing to escalate due to climate change, our capacity to buffer these costs in future are subject to reducing our exposure and vulnerability to these extreme weather and climate events,” said WMO President David Grimes.
“It begins by moving people out of harms way, and the establishment of national and regional early warning systems has proven its effectiveness with reduced losses of life.”
“However, we should not become complacent in this regard either, as new climate related hazards are impacting society’s health and safety such as excessive heat exposure, poor air quality, smoke inhalation from large scale wildfires and significant crop failures due to decadal drought patterns,” Mr Grimes said in a keynote address to the conference.
The establishment of this Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early warning System (RIMES) Sub-Regional hub for the Pacific in Papua New Guinea is therefore a significant cornerstone in supporting WMO Members and their ongoing and future programs in this region, he said.
WMO has a close relationship with RIMES as an interface institution between National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and climate-sensitive user sectors.
In 2010, WMO and RIMES signed a Memorandum of Understanding, and established a collaborative framework for designing and implementing programs/ projects. Under this framework, a joint WMO - RIMES 5-year program was implemented from 2011, with support from UN ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) to enhance multi-hazard early warning in high-risk low-elevation coastal zones in select countries in South and Southeast Asia.
Beginning in February 2016, RIMES has been implementing the WMO Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) project in South Asia, supported by the Government of Canada.
More recently, a joint RIMES - WMO project was approved by the UN ESCAP, further expanding WMO-RIMES collaborative efforts for the region. RIMES has also been actively involved WMO’s Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) in South and South East Asia.
RIMES serves as an outreach institution to connect WMO’s GFCS into operational programs at national and sub-national levels. Joint efforts by WMO and RIMES have resulted in regular Climate Services Users Forums for better appreciation and uptake of seasonal climate information at both regional and national levels. This experience from South and South East Asia can now be more easily extended to the Pacific with the creation of a similar system in the Pacific, said Mr Grimes.
In Papua New Guinea, RIMES is building an integrated national early warning system by enhancing the capacities of technical and managerial human resources of key institutions that generate and use early warning information. This collaboration should become a model for service delivery that complies with WMO standards and the needs and demands in participating countries, said Mr Grimes.
“I am confident that this “trail-blazer” model of RIMES Papua New Guinea collaboration will inspire a pathway for others to follow.”