WMO: 70% of deaths from climate-related disaster in 46 poorest countries

WMO: 70% of deaths from climate-related disaster in 46 poorest countries
19 / 06 / 2024
By Marwa Nassar -

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said some 70% of all deaths from climate-related disasters have occurred in the 46 poorest countries over the past 50 years.

Early warning systems have helped decrease the number of deaths and have reduced losses and damages resulting from hazardous weather, water, or climate events. They provide a nearly tenfold return on investment.

The seventy-eighth session of the WMO Executive Council (EC78) approved an Early Warnings for All (EW4All) road map which outlines the vision and actions to enhance the delivery and use of multi-hazard early warning systems. It covers the period from 2024-2027 with detailed dates, deliverables and defined responsibilities. This is in line with the target date set by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

The road map seeks to leverage the entire WMO network and enhance the capabilities of its NMHSs to protect lives and livelihoods. WMO Members have already endorsed the structure underpinning the priority activities, with defined roles and responsibilities.

The road map defines priority hazards, including flash floods and riverine floods; tropical cyclones and extra-tropical storms, heatwaves, cold waves, thunderstorms, drought, coastal inundation, storm surge and cryosphere-related hazards such as glacial lake outflows. It also cites environmental hazards like wildfires, sand and dust storms, tsunamis, landslides and volcanic activity. The challenges are huge, but the benefits even bigger.

The Early Warnings for All Initiative was launched in an initial set of countries and is now being expanded to other countries to meet the demand and need. The roadmap will guide WMO as it seeks to scale up and accelerate actions.

Only 50% of countries worldwide report having adequate multi-hazard early warning systems, and there are big gaps in observations across Africa, parts of the Pacific and West of Latin America.

Of the 30 countries initially selected to implement Early Warnings for All coordinated assistance, half of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) currently operate with basic monitoring and forecasting capacity and close to a quarter with less-than-basic capacity.

“Strong early warning systems require stronger political and policy support from the international community and governments, in addition to significant investment in infrastructure, technology, and training. We must all champion the EW4All Initiative globally, advocating for increased investment and political will”, said Abdulla Al Mandous, President of the WMO.

“People’s lives and people’s safety are our top priority. Every single forecast that is issued has a human dimension. Every life we save has a human face, a family, a future”, said WMO Secretary-General Celeste Saulo.

“It makes economic sense. Early warning systems provide a ninefold return on investment. They are the low-hanging fruit of climate adaptation. If we don’t invest, the cost of inaction will be much higher than the cost of action,” she said.

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