Unpacking multi-hazard early warning systems: From concepts to measurable reduction of disaster risks and impacts
The concept of multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWS) is well developed – however, different actors have different understandings of what it means: From comprehensive national partnerships to global-to-local-systems of systems to software applications in operational emergency management centres. This makes it a challenge to strengthen such systems, measure their effectiveness, and report on progress. What is clear is that they aim at triggering early action ahead of hazardous situations so that the negative impacts at the so-called “last mile” are minimised. However, what kind of warning information is the most useful, and what is the right balance between too early and too late?
In order to realise this aim effectively, the “last mile” needs to become the “first mile”. By hearing from individuals, community representatives, volunteers and decision-makers directly through storytelling, videos and engaging presentations, the idea is to work “backwards” and first understand how they perceive and integrate risk and warnings in their daily lives, how and why they prepare and act (or not), which communication channels and information sources they use and why, how they define and record hazard events and associated losses and damages, etc.
This will then help technical agencies such as National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and National Disaster Risk Management Offices (NDMOs) build the right partnerships; determine the type, detail and timing of impact information and action advice they need to provide (as well as gaps to be filled through further research); and tailor it to the different stakeholders, decision points and spatial/administrative levels. In some cases and for some users it may be useful to research and warn of multiple (simultaneous and/or cascading) hazards, but sometimes it may be better to focus on only one hazard.
This Focus Day event will build on the Second Multi-Hazard Early Warning Conference (MHEWC-II) in 2019, and the UR2018 Technical Session on impact-based forecasting “Early Warning for Early Action: Forewarned and Forearmed”. It will draw from capacity development and funding programmes such as the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative, Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience (SHEAR), Asia Regional Resilience to a Changing Climate (ARRCC), Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) or Forecast-based Financing/Action (FbF/FbA), and partnerships like the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) or the International Network for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (IN-MHEWS).
These have been or are being put in place to strengthen the different crucial elements and actors of the risk information and early warning early action value chain, their interlinkages, and enabling environments that together are described as MHEWS. Many challenges encountered, lessons learnt and success stories from these programmes’ activities could be shared and discussed. International and national partners such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) with their national counterparts (e.g. NMHSs such as the UK Met Office, NDMOs, National Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies) as well as regional organizations (especially from Asia and the Pacific) will mobilise their extensive networks to bring in expertise from each MHEWS component to the Side Event. The outcomes could feed into inter-agency as well as agency-specific guidelines for strengthening MHEWS and for measuring progress and effectiveness.
Organizer: World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
Partner organizations: International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Secretariat, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre), Practical Action, and national agencies and NGOs