At Climate Ambition Summit, UN agencies and IFRC kickstart major initiative towards realizing Early Warnings for All by 2027
September 20, 2023
New York - At the UN Climate Ambition Summit today in New York, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) announced the development of a large-scale, collaborative push to establish life-saving Early Warning Systems in some of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries.
An initial injection of US$1.3 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will be used to kick-start a much larger initiative aimed at delivering $157 million from the GCF and partner governments to move towards universal early warning for all. As part of the announcement, UNDP and its partners appealed for other donors to join forces, growing the initiative beyond the first group of countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Cambodia, Chad, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, and Somalia.
Designed by UNDP, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and targeting finance from the GCF – with other donors expected to come on board – the project is a key contribution to realizing the UN Secretary-General’s Early Warnings for All initiative.
The Early Warnings for All initiative is an ambitious push to ensure everyone on Earth is protected from hazardous weather, water, and climate events through life-saving early warning systems by the end of 2027.
UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Climate Action and Just Transition, Selwin Hart said, “Early Warning Systems are effective and proven tools to save lives and protect the livelihoods of those on the frontlines of climate crisis. Yet those that have contributed least to the climate crisis lack coverage. Six out of every ten persons in Africa are not covered by an early warning system. No effort should be spared to deliver on the ambitious but achievable goal set by the Secretary-General to ensure universal early warning systems coverage by 2027. This will require unprecedented levels of coordination and collaboration. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work. One life lost from a lack of access to an early warning system is one life too many.”
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said, “The power of science and technology to predict disasters is yet another demonstration of humanity’s ability to confront climate change. Yet these vital early warning tools remain out of reach for too many. By bridging the gaps, this new initiative will help to advance the UN Secretary-General's bold vision whereby everyone, everywhere can benefit from Early Warning Systems by 2027. We invite partners and donors to join us in mobilizing the support needed to make this ambitious initiative a reality."
GCF Executive Director, Mafalda Duarte said, “Timely and accurate climate information is the first line of defense before disaster strikes. The more we scale up early warning systems, the more lives we save and the more livelihoods we protect. GCF is proud to make this initial contribution to Early Warnings for All to bridge investment gaps that stand in the way of a more resilient future for vulnerable communities across the developing world.”
According to the WMO, extreme weather, climate and water-related events caused 11,778 reported disasters between 1970 and 2021, with just over 2 million deaths and $4.3 trillion in economic losses. By 2050, the global economy may lose up to 14 percent ($23 trillion) on account of climate change.
The benefits of multi-hazard Early Warning Systems are considerable. Just 24 hours’ notice of a hazardous event – for example, a flood or fire – can cut the ensuing damage by 30 percent. Countries with substantive-to-comprehensive early warning coverage experience disaster mortality rates eight times lower than countries with limited coverage.
Half of countries worldwide, however, are not protected by multi-hazard Early Warning Systems, nor have protocols and resources in place to deal with climate extremes and hazards.
The new 6-year project will help Antigua and Barbuda, Cambodia, Chad, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, and Somalia to develop their own projects, while also assisting at least 20 other vulnerable countries with technical and financial support from the GCF and Early Warnings for All partners.
WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said, “Floods, fires, heatwaves, and drought have all wreaked devastation with people’s lives and livelihoods in recent weeks. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of these extreme events. It is therefore vital that climate adaptation policies and actions embrace multi-hazard Early Warning Systems to protect people and property.”
IFRC Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain said, "Communities most at risk must be warned early – and warning must be followed by action. IFRC’s role in reaching communities with early warnings and preparing them to act is critical to saving lives and livelihoods. This project demonstrates how Early Warning for All can bring together partners to take bigger and more effective actions that benefit everyone, especially communities who need it most."
ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin said, “When disaster strikes, timely communications are critical to save lives and reduce damage. Within the Early Warnings for All initiative, ITU is focusing on ensuring that communications channels are in place for warnings to swiftly and effectively reach people and communities. We are committed to mobilizing our unique public and private membership to help cover the world with an Early Warning System by the end of 2027.”
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR Mami Mizutori said, “Extreme weather events do not need to become deadly disasters. We need an immediate roll out of early warning systems to protect everyone, everywhere. We will only be safe when everyone is safe.”
The implementing partners will tailor their support based on country needs and focus on enhancing national and community capacities, contributing to the global knowledge base, and developing timely and easily accessible climate information for communities to make practical decisions, such as when to evacuate ahead of a cyclone or flood, or how to mitigate the impact of an impending drought.
The project will closely coordinate with and build on other efforts currently supporting the Early Warnings for All goals, such as the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF), a new UN fund co-created by WMO, UNDP and UNEP, that provides support to close today's major weather and climate data gaps.
It will also help link participating countries with international institutions for sustainable financing and technical support.
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About the Early Warnings for All initiative
Backed by the UN Secretary-General, the Early Warnings for All initiative (EW4All) is a groundbreaking effort to ensure that everyone on Earth is protected from hazardous weather, water, or climate events through life-saving early warning systems by the end of 2027.
An Executive Action Plan for the EW4All initiative was launched at COP27 focused on mobilizing investments of $3.1 billion over five years to strengthen disaster risk knowledge and management, observation and forecasting, dissemination and communication of warnings, and preparedness and response capabilities. As part of the plan, 30 countries have been prioritized for accelerated implementation of the EW4All initiative for 2023.
UNDP (along with FAO, OCHA, UNEP, UNESCO, IFRC, and WFP) is an implementing partner of the EW4All initiative through its existing projects and programmes on the ground.
About the GCF
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the world’s largest dedicated climate fund. GCF’s mandate is to foster a paradigm shift towards low emission, climate resilient development pathways in developing countries. GCF has a portfolio of projects and programmes across more than 100 countries. It also has a readiness support programme to build capacity and help countries develop long-term plans to fight climate change. GCF is an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and serves the 2015 Paris Agreement, supporting the goal of keeping average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius.
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