CARICOM welcomes launch of Early Warnings for All Initiative

CARICOM welcomes launch of Early Warnings for All Initiative


Windy (Photo credit: iStock)
Windy (Photo credit: iStock)

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Dr Carla Barnett, Monday endorsed the launch of the United Nations Early Warning for All (EW4ALL) initiative, saying the region had no choice, but to pour its collective efforts into improving early warnings for all of the various natural disasters that befall the Caribbean.

She told the ceremony that the Caribbean region has been bearing the brunt of the impact of global warming and that the EW4ALL “is a key adaptive response to the inability, so far, to limit global emissions to a level that would keep global temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees of preindustrial levels.

“We are all acutely aware of the developmental setback that a few hours of severe weather inflicts on small states.  This is, of course, in conjunction with slow-onset climate impacts like sea-level rise and accelerated drought-flood cycles.  Timely, accurate and user-friendly early warning requires a wide spectrum of support,” she added.

The EW4ALL is intended to drive coordinated political action towards strengthening multi-hazard early warning systems for hazards such as hurricanes, tropical storms, tsunamis, volcanoes, floods, landslides, and epidemics, among others.

It is also aimed at ensuring that every person on earth is covered by an early warning system by the year 2027.

In November last year, at the COP27 Climate Change Conference in Egypt, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, launched the Executive Action Plan for the implementation of the EW4ALL initiative. He asked the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), to co-lead its implementation.

Barnett told the ceremony that the region is at a good time to take stock, given the recent midterm reviews of Sendai and Target G particularly, and the midterm review of the Caribbean’s own Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Framework.

“We can add to this the recent and routine reporting from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the WMO, which all provide valuable input into a regional assessment of progress and gaps.

“In addition, inclusive and streamlined approaches to implementing early warning products is required at all levels so that local communities, youth and all other vulnerable groups may contribute valuable inputs to development of systems that guard their own safety.”

She said that the Caribbean also needs to take a fresh look at capacity building, moving beyond providing weather stations and a few days of training, to seeking out opportunities for education and vocational training to support equipment maintenance, statistics and data management, artificial intelligence and modelling, and broadened communication strategies.

“But above all, we must continue on a path where early warning is seen by all users, as underpinned by principles of authority, credibility and salience,” she said, noting that “MET services have constantly battled stubborn disregard for warnings and fake information, which undermine credible efforts and engender public displeasure when a disaster does not occur as it was predicted.

“This is detrimental to the goal.  We learned during our most recent global health crisis that rampant misinformation can be so debilitating, that it can become its own crisis. “

The CARICOM Secretary General said that decades of progress in meteorological services have provided a strong platform for the pursuit of multi-hazard early warning systems in the region.  She said weather-related products and services, despite its challenges, are mainstreamed in daily and seasonal decision-making, and planning, adding “we have to build on that progress.

“Through the EW4ALL aligning with other existing initiatives, we can reach a space where all major sources of risk information and products can reach the effective level of maturity and public integration.

“We clearly saw the tremendous benefit of multi-hazard early warning in action in St Vincent and the Grenadines, in the lead-up to the eruption of La Soufrière. Despite massive infrastructure damage, early warning and acting upon it, saved lives.

“The machineries of the whole disaster risk reduction (DRR) system at the national and regional levels can never receive enough praise for this achievement.   Lessons and good practice can permeate the Region to ensure multi-hazard early warning systems are a critical climate resilience exercise,” she added.

  • PublishedFebruary 24, 2023

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