Collaboration necessary to improve early warnings for natural disasters in Region – CARICOM Secretary-General

Early warning systems can help to mitigate the effects of extreme weather and reduce the impact of floods, for example in northern Haiti (File photo via WFP)

The first regional launch of a plan to ensure that every person on the planet is protected by early warning systems by 2027, was held in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Monday, 6 February.

Leaders from the Caribbean and the United Nations attended the event which was aimed at mobilising Prime Ministers to support the Early Warnings for All initiative (EW4ALL) in the face of mounting climate hazards. Attendees included Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, the Hon. Philip Pierre, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Amina Mohammed, and Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ms. Elizabeth Riley.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced EW4ALL at the COP27 climate change conference in Egypt in November. The United Nations News said the initiative calls for investment across disaster risk knowledge, observations and forecasting, preparedness and response, and communication of early warnings, with particularly priority placed on vulnerable communities. It outlines initial new targeted investments of $ 3.1 billion between now and 2027, equivalent to a cost of just 50 cents per person per year.  The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) are co-leads in the plan’s implementation.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Dr. Carla Barnett, spoke at the event and pointed out that collaborative effort was necessary to improve early warnings for all of the various natural disasters that the Region experiences. She added that she expects the launch to stimulate important discussions around the “vital importance of early warning systems for all as we face our challenging future”.

“The Region has been bearing the brunt of global warming and therefore, it is no surprise that our Heads of Government have provided leadership for initiating the implementation of this plan in the Caribbean. 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,” the Secretary-General said.

Early warning, she pointed out, requires a wide spectrum of support. She said the time is ripe to have a fresh look at capacity- building.

Please listen to the Secretary-General’s remarks:

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