With human-induced climate change leading to more extreme weather conditions, the need for early warning systems is more crucial than ever. These systems are not a luxury but a cost-effective tool that saves lives, reduces economic losses, and provides a nearly tenfold return on investment.
Early warning systems have helped decrease the number of deaths resulting from hazardous weather, water, or climate events. But major gaps still exist, especially in small islands and developing countries. The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is determined to close these gaps and ensure that early warning systems protect everyone on Earth within the next five years.
The Early Warnings For All initiative is fully aligned with the 2030 global agenda and supports key Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction provisions and the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals on poverty, hunger, health, water, clean energy, climate action and sustainable cities.
Early warnings work. They must work for everyone.
Despite the urgent need, only half of the countries worldwide report having adequate multi-hazard early warning systems. There are big gaps in the global observing system necessary to generate these forecasts. And even fewer have regulatory frameworks that connect early warnings to emergency plans.
Climate, weather, and water-related extremes have led to 15 times more deadly hazards for people in Africa, South Asia, South and Central America, and small island states. Vulnerable, least-developed countries that have not contributed significantly to the problem of climate change are bearing the brunt of this crisis.
Early warning systems have proven to be an effective way to adapt to climate change by providing a cost-effective and reliable way of protecting lives and livelihoods from natural hazards such as floods, heatwaves, storms, and tsunamis.
According to the Global Commission on Adaptation, giving just 24 hours' notice of an impending hazardous event can reduce damage by 30 percent. Investing just US$800 million in such systems in developing countries would prevent losses of $3 to $16 billion annually.
With 95 percent of the world's population having access to mobile broadband networks and nearly 75 percent owning a mobile phone, mobile networks have become powerful communication channels that can effectively target those in at-risk areas.
The Early Warnings for All initiative partners beyond UN with the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, civil society, Big Tech companies, donor governments, development banks, and the insurance sector. Everyone has a role to play in making this initiative a success.
The Early Warnings for All initiative is co-led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), with support from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other partners.