The governments of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg and The Netherlands have agreed to give over US$80 million to equip up to 80 countries with better climate risk early

Margareta Wahlström, Head of UNISDR (left) with, Annick Girardin, France’s Secretary of State for Development, at the launch of the CREWS initiative (Photo: UNISDR)
Margareta Wahlström, Head of UNISDR (left) with, Annick Girardin, France’s Secretary of State for Development, at the launch of the CREWS initiative (Photo: UNISDR)

warning systems.

Countries from Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and, more broadly, nations in Africa will be the first to get this support. Their vulnerability puts them on the frontline of the most dramatic consequences of climate change and the least equipped with efficient early warning systems.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), over 80 percent of the world’s 48 LDCs have only a basic early warning system, while just a handful of the 40 SIDS have an effective early warning system in place.

The Climate Risk Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative was launched at the Oceanographic Institute in Paris as part of a raft of climate change solutions in the spotlight at the COP21 international climate summit in Paris, France.
The plan was first proposed in March by France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan — where the international community adopted the 15-year Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. This Framework was later endorsed by the G7.

The CREWS initiative is supported by three international organizations: the WMO, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). They are actively involved in reducing the vulnerability and exposure of nations and communities to weather-related disasters and will support the CREWS initiative to raise more than US$100 million dollars by 2020.

Climate related disasters cause human losses and dramatic economic losses each year, and the need to first help the most exposed countries among LDCs and Small Island States which will be most at risk was described as urgent by Annick Girardin – France’s Secretary of State for Development – who said: “The purpose of the CREWS initiative is to strengthen the work of the international community in supporting early warning systems in vulnerable countries, and to mobilise additional financing to enhance actions to fully cover the global population exposed to extreme climate events by 2020 as agreed in the Sendai Framework”

Calls for such urgent action are reinforced by The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters, a report issued last week by United Nations Office on Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). According to this report, over 90% of major disasters over the last twenty years have been caused by 6,457 recorded floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events. The report also indicated that since the COP1 climate summit in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters.

“Multi-hazard early warning systems have considerably reduced the loss of life caused by hydro-meteorological hazards such as tropical cyclones, floods, severe storms, forest fires, heat waves and tsunamis, and proved to be a good investment to reduce economic losses as well which are increasing all over the globe in the range of US$300 billion annually,” explained Michel Jarraud, Executive Secretary-General of WMO.

Countries that have successfully built these systems, such as Bangladesh and Cuba, have already benefited from dramatic reduction in deaths related to weather extremes, as well as various additional benefits to their economies.
The CREWS initiative aligns with the programmatic goals of Eco Relief’s 2016 – 2020 strategic workplan, and will see us implement the Sendai Framework by working with governments to build capacity at community level where the majority of vulnerable people live. This will enable us offer an immediate and concrete solution to reduce loss of lives and comply with the targets of the Sendai Framework. Within the framework of our mission to develop resilient ecosystems that combat droughts and floods, it will provide citizens and all those who are prone to climate disasters with efficient life-saving early warning systems.
The capacity developed will provide essential capabilities and early warning systems to manage hazards that threaten food security and put millions of people at risk of flooding and drought. These early warning systems are not only vital to help save people’s lives but are also essential for sustainable and resilient growth. For instance, with better weather information, farmers will know when it will rain and therefore avoid applying fertilizer at a time when it will be washed away; or know when to move livestock to high ground before floods.