UAE: Experts highlight importance of early warning systems in disaster risk reduction

Not only do these systems prevent loss of life, they also reduce the economic impact of natural hazards, say officials


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Mon 13 Mar 2023, 3:24 PM

Last updated: Mon 13 Mar 2023, 6:11 PM

International and local weather experts have highlighted the importance of early warning systems in reducing natural disasters that cause floods, heat waves, drought and earthquakes.

In her keynote speech at the Regional Conference (RECO) of World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)’s Regional Association II (Asia) which kicked off in Abu Dhabi on Monday, Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction in the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) said: “Early warning systems are a major component of disaster risk reduction. They prevent loss of life, as well as reducing the economic impact of natural hazards.

“Increasing the availability of multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information should be the target for all nations in order to reduce disasters.”

The 3-day-weather conference is being hosted by the UAE’S National Center of Meteorology (NCM).

Petri Taalas, WMO Secretary General, said the purpose of early warning systems is mitigating the risk produced by disasters.

“These disaster risks are compounded by the socio-economic vulnerability of the population exposed to the hazards. Therefore, early warning systems must be inclusive and sensitive to the different sources of vulnerability,” said Taalas.

“It is important for nations to make use of early warning systems to correctly identify an incoming hazard. Governments should also ensure that the people and sectors that are at risk can receive the warning alert, understand it, and also act on it.”

Delivering a speech at the conference, Dr. Abdulla Al Mandous, Director General of the National Center of Meteorology (NCM), said: “This forum convenes at a time when the State of Climate in Asia for 2020 and 2021 highlights how climate change impacts are wreaking an ever-increasing human, financial and environmental toll, worsening food security and poverty and holding back sustainable development in ASIA.

“In 2021 alone, weather and climate related hazards caused damage worth $35.6 billion, affecting nearly 50 million people in Asia.”

He noted that the major disasters of 2022 fell across the development spectrum, from floods in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Thailand, droughts in China, heatwaves in India, Japan, and Pakistan, to earthquakes in Afghanistan.

“Floods were the deadliest, accounting for 75 per cent of disaster events in the region and 89 per cent of total deaths globally,” said Al Mandous.

“For the past 150 years, the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services have collected and standardised data which underpin the weather forecasts we now take for granted, to improve the well-being of present and future generations. The history of WMO data exchange and the New Data Policy is a success story of scientific cooperation to save lives and livelihoods.”

Running both physically and in a hybrid format from March 13 to 16, the event convenes over 150 participants – including the Ambassadors of RA II Asia’s 35-member countries, key officials from WMO, and other UN commissions and offices, and the Permanent Representatives of WMO Members from Asia.

The conference aims to provide a forum for the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of RA II to address the emerging issues and challenges, strengthen regional cooperation, and enhance partnerships for the implementation of WMO resolutions and decisions in view of regional priorities.


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