A total of 274 million people worldwide will need emergency aid and protection in 2022, a 17 per cent increase on the previous year, according to the Global Humanitarian Overview released by the UN Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), because of the intertwined effects of political and economic instability, extreme weather and climate change, and COVID-19 on the world’s most vulnerable people.
Rising demand for authoritative and actionable information led to the establishment of the WMO Coordination Mechanism. This provides United Nations agencies and humanitarian actors with new services for optimising emergency response to high-impact events, especially in developing countries.
The research community is striving to strengthen collaboration between meteorological services, the private sector, academia and users to ensure that forecasts are accurate, timely, accessible and useful.
The Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) brings together an unprecedented range of stakeholders across the climate, humanitarian and development communities with the aim of making 1 billion people safer from disaster by 2025. To achieve that aim, REAP has set 4 Targets that focus on improving comprehensive risk management systems, and mobilizing commitment and support for financing and implementing effective and people-centred early warning and early action systems.
Impact-based forecasting championed by the meteorological community is an important tool in this regard. The idea is to replace the patchy crisis-driven reactive approaches with more innovative, forward-looking anticipatory action. This transforms complex scientific information into actionable insights that enable humanitarian interventions which make a real difference on the ground.
Examples include mobilizing cooling stations for a heatwave, distributing water treatment kits ahead of floods, and evacuating not just people but also livestock and reinforcing shelters ahead of a tropical cyclone.
Another innovative concept is forecast-based financing, which uses weather forecasts and risk analysis to activate the release of funding ahead of extreme weather events. The overall goal is to prevent natural hazards from becoming disasters and reduce human suffering.
Artificial intelligence offers growing promise as a technology-driven approach to help manage and respond to disaster risks. However, all solutions must be people-centred.
WMO and UNDRR have established a Centre of Excellence for Climate and Disaster Resilience. It will strengthen our efforts to transform research and scientific knowledge and tools into action supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation and to explain to governments and civil society how extreme weather interacts with other drivers of disaster risk to amplify disaster impacts in unprecedented ways.