What it's about:
The Mexican government, the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are organising the first-ever Multi-Hazard Early Warning Conference over two days during a major disaster risk reduction forum in Cancun in late May.
Nowadays countries are not exposed to single hazards, but to a multitude of hazards which loom on the horizon - from droughts, floods and hurricanes to economic crashes and health epidemics.
Taking a multi-hazard approach makes more sense economically and operationally, according the Robert Glasser, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of the UNISDR.
Writing in the Huffington Post, Glasser outlines how the conference will highlight that multi-hazard early warning systems are essential to achieving reductions in loss of life, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure – targets governments have already signed-up to under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, agreed in 20215.
Glasser states that when early warnings are shared in a way that all affected can act - for example through standardised messaging from an authorised source on social media and mobile phones - both lives and livelihoods can be saved.
Why it's noteworthy:
In 2004, the lack of a tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean contributed to the deaths of 230,000 people, notes Glasser.
Extreme weather events have doubled over the last 40 years and continue to claim many lives and cause huge economic losses, particularly in countries that struggle to maintain viable climate and weather information services.
Due to climate change, historical patterns are also no longer reliable guides and the adoption of early warning systems, taking a multi-hazard approach, can better prepare countries to take on the challenge of extreme events.
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