Image: UNICEF/Arimacs Wilander
New York: More countries must “think resilience”, and urgently adopt and improve early warning systems to reduce risks from an increasing number of disasters across the world, a UN disaster forum concluded on Friday.
Delegates from some 184 countries gathered in Bali for the 2022 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction where they reviewed efforts to protect communities against a rising number of climate hazards and other catastrophes globally.
The summit concluded with an outcome document entitled the Bali Agenda for Resilience, which aims to prevent the world from facing 1.5 disasters a day by 2030, as cited last month in the Global Assessment Report.
“Early warning systems should be inclusive of communities most at risk with adequate institutional, financial and human capacity to act on early warnings,” said the co-chairs’ summary.
State of affairs
During the meeting, only 95 countries had reported having multi-hazard early warning systems that give governments, agencies and the general public notice of an impending disaster. Coverage in Africa, Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing Countries was particularly low.
Early warning systems are a critical defence against disasters such as floods, droughts and volcanic eruptions.
In March, Secretary-General António Guterres had called for the warning systems to cover every person on the planet within five years.
A core recommendation of the Bali Agenda is to “apply a ‘Think Resilience’ approach to all investments and decision making, integrating disaster risk reduction with the whole of government and whole of society,” the co-chairs spelled out in their summary.
The outcome document also highlighted the need to reassess how risk is governed and policy is designed, as well as institutional arrangements that need to be put in place at global, regional, and national levels.
The meeting was the first international UN disaster forum to be convened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Against that backdrop, the co-chairs observed that current approaches to recovery and reconstruction are “not sufficiently effective in protecting development gains nor in building back better, greener and more equitably.”
“Transformative lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic must be applied before the window of opportunity closes.”
In parallel, the Midterm Review – which measures progress towards global targets of the UN’s Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – got underway.
Sharing advancements since the last Global Platform in 2019, delegates revealed a 33 per cent increase in the number of countries developing disaster risk reduction strategies and reporting through the Sendai Framework Monitor.
However, the Bali Agenda showed that “less than half of the countries reporting against Sendai Framework targets indicate having fit-for purpose, accessible and actionable disaster risk information.”
And while there has been some progress – such as developing new financing mechanisms and better linkages with climate action – “the data still points to insufficient investment and progress in disaster risk reduction in most countries, especially in investing in prevention.”
The Bali Agenda will be carried through to the next UN climate conference, known as COP 27, as well as the next meeting of the G20 leading industrialized nations and Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework.
This year the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, commemorated annually on 13 October, will be dedicated to early warning systems.
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