Cairo Roundtable Advances on Early Warnings for All

Cairo Roundtable Advances on Early Warnings for All

Early warnings and action save lives: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

A Cairo Roundtable on UN Global Early Warning Initiative: Developing the Global Architecture for Delivery on Early Warnings for All, hosted by the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry from 5 to 6 September, has advanced plans to ensure that early warnings reach everyone in the next five years.

A WMO delegation led by Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas joined Selwin Hart, Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Action, and senior representatives of UN partners, development and humanitarian agencies, the diplomatic community and WMO Members at the two-day event.

Ambassador Ayman Amin of Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefed participants on how the outcome will inform an action plan to be presented at the United Nations Climate Conference, COP27, in Egypt in November.

Pronouncing that “early warnings and action save lives,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres unveiled the initiative on World Meteorological Day on 23 March 2022. He has tasked WMO with spearheading the campaign.

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“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,” said Mr Guterres.

As many as 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in areas highly vulnerable to climate change. Therefore it is important that the international community now sends a strong commitment to act to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within the next five years.

Early Warning Systems are a proven, effective, and feasible climate adaptation measure, that save lives, and provide a tenfold return on investment.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability recognized early warning systems as one of the key adaptation options.

The practicality, implementability, and universal political appeal of early warning systems makes them a fitting focus area of COP27. H.E. President El-Sisi of Egypt recently highlighted turning promises and pledges into implementation on the ground as a top priority of Egypt’s COP27 Presidency.

Both COP26 and COP27 Presidencies have called for developed countries to follow through on their commitments made in Glasgow to at least double their climate finance for adaptation to developing countries by 2025, aiming at achieving balance between funding adaptation and mitigation.

The Cairo Roundtable presented advanced analysis to improve the understanding of the global status of early warnings, across the full early warning to early action value cycle, including a mapping of international early warning development efforts already planned for the next 5 years.

It took stock of progress to date, present options for scaling up the financing landscape, and discuss political commitments to advance Early Warnings for All in key international processes.

It heard presentations from partners on existing work around early warnings and opportunities for expansion.

Workstreams addressed the four components of an early warning system: disaster risk knowledge; monitoring, forecasting, observations, and analysis; warning dissemination and communication; and preparedness and response capabilities.

These workstreams cut across the finance and private sector. The Roundtable also heard political statements of commitment.

A Ministerial meeting on Integrated Early Warning and Early Action System Initiative, held in Maputo on 5-9 September, also stressed the need to bridge the gap between early warning and early action.

The Maputo Declaration committed itself to taking an active role “to ensure that all citizens, in particular the most vulnerable communities in the Southern African Development Community are covered by effective Early Warning and Early Action system initiatives.”

The architecture for the Early Warnings for All initiative will be based on globally agreed guidance on Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems. It will map the actions required of the hydro/meteorological, disaster risk, and early action communities to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warnings within five years.

This week, on the margins of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, countries will come together in an Early Warnings for All side event in New York and underscore the importance of elevating early warnings as a key climate adaptation measure at the COP27 in Egypt in November.

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