Advances in forecasting and technology promise more effective early warning systems for natural hazards. What stands between disaster alert and action, and how can the impact of early warning tools be enhanced?
Displaying 1-10 of 10 key documents
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
This document is one of the outcomes of the Third International Conference on Early Warning in 2006, held in Bonn, Germany. It presents a series of practical checklists that cover elements, actions and good practices to assist in developing, evaluating or refining early warning systems. It is presented as a non-technical reference tool rather than an extensive 'how-to' list for designing early warning systems. The document also provides background information on early warning, which includes an overview of four key themes (risk knowledge, monitoring and warning service, communication, response capability), as well as cross-cutting issues such as governance and involvement of local communities. It also outlines the roles of key actors (such as local governments and international bodies) within each theme,, without discussing any overlap of responsibilities and how they relate to the different elements of early warning systems.
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
This document presents a collection of selected papers produced for and discussed at the Second International Conference on Early Warning, in Bonn, Germany, in 2003, and four regional conferences in Africa, Asia/Pacific, America and Europe. The conferences focused on integrating early warning into sustainable development policy. The document notes the failure of scientists, policymakers, local authorities and other relevant actors to use early warning systems efficiently, and makes suggestions for improvement. It highlights challenges, lessons learnt and possible trajectories for further development of early warning systems, and outlines key steps towards strengthening frameworks, finding resources, and designating responsibilities. Key areas for action include improving data collection, ensuring that warning systems focus on people and achieve gender balance, and creating platforms for early warning dialogue.
Source: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies | 2009
The 2009 edition of the World Disasters Report, published annually by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, focuses on early warning systems and the potential for such systems to inform early action as crucial aspects of disaster risk reduction.
The report stresses the need to recognise early warning not just as a technology, but as a system; it also stresses the need for a "people-centred" approach to these systems. This approach suggests that communities at risk of disaster have high levels of understanding of the threats to their own survival, and knowledge about social networks that offer information-sharing potential. The report argues that scientific and other institutions must provide communities with the right support to strengthen this knowledge and build resilience.
Recommendations and case studies detail the benefits and opportunities for communities to get involved at different stages of the early warning system. In addition to outlining the people-centred approach, the report explores its relevance to climate change and food insecurity. Annexes in the report include statistics on disaster patterns over the last 20 years, as well as progress in implementing risk-reduction measures.
Source: UN Environment Programme | 2012
This report provides an inventory of existing early warning systems, organised according to the type of environmental threat. It covers a range of hazard types — differentiating between rapid- and slow-onset events — and spans developing as well as developed nations.
The report introduces basic concepts behind early warning systems, including the policy and operational aspects; looks at the role of earth observation in these systems; describes existing systems for several hazards; and presents gaps that remain in spite of improvements in scientific knowledge and technology, future perspectives and a global multi-hazard approach to early warning.
It concludes with recommendations for strengthening the capacity for early warning, with specific reference to developing regions. Suggestions include expanding the geographical coverage of systems, improving prediction capabilities, developing warning infrastructures and promoting education programmes on disaster preparedness.
Source: Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe | 2009
This publication discusses the importance of considering gender differences in the design, implementation and life-cycle of early warning systems, as part of a series of briefs aimed at practitioners. It introduces the terminology and concepts behind gender and early warning systems, illustrates how women are excluded from key elements of these systems, and briefly outlines steps towards integrating gender issues.
The publication acknowledges that although women are one of the major vulnerable groups affected by disasters, they are unrepresented in the coordination of early warning systems, while gender is still often ignored in efforts aimed at disaster preparedness. It also acknowledges that women do not just represent vulnerability, but provide opportunities for enhancing early warning systems through social ties and local knowledge.
Source: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A | 2006
This paper reviews the main elements and development of early warning systems, and calls for a global, comprehensive and people-centred system for all hazards and all countries. It stresses the need for a strong focus on the people exposed to risk, as well as a systems approach that incorporates all relevant factors contributing to that risk — whether they arise from natural hazards, social vulnerabilities, or other processes such as migration or development practices.
The paper highlights two disaster reduction frameworks — the Hyogo Framework and the UN International Strategy on Disaster Reduction — which it says are "critically important" for implementing better early warning systems. It concludes by emphasising that despite scientific and technical advances, putting them into practice effectively will require sound institutional mechanisms and multidisciplinary science.
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction | 2006
This report synthesises the findings of a global survey that identifies gaps in early warning systems, which was carried out by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) in collaboration with a multi-party working group.
It comments on mixed progress made in each of the UNISDR's four elements of early warning systems: risk knowledge; monitoring and warning service; dissemination and communication; and response capability. The report highlights areas where considerable advances have been made — for example in developing the knowledge and tools required to assess risks and communicate predictions and warnings — as well as where significant inadequacies still exist, such as basic equipment and skills.
The report also discusses challenges that need to be overcome for each of the above elements of early warning systems. It identifies cross-cutting issues, including insufficient coordination and a lack of participatory approaches, and concludes with a summary of recommendations for the next steps towards creating a comprehensive global early warning system for all natural hazards.
Source: UN International Strategy on Disaster Reduction, Kyoto University, European Union
This document aims to build awareness for indigenous knowledge as an effective tool for reducing risk from natural hazards including earthquakes, cyclones (typhoons) and droughts.
It presents a collection of 18 indigenous practices developed by communities in the Asia-Pacific region. These include earthquake-safe traditional house construction practices in Kashmir, soil and water conservation through bamboo plantation in Assam, and village tank cascade systems for drought mitigation in Sri Lanka.
The collection also provides an overview of the types of indigenous knowledge that can exist in the context of disaster preparedness and early warning, and how integration with scientific practices can lead to better outcomes.
Source: Humanitarian Futures Programme | May 2010
This paper discusses how forecasters and risk managers can build common ground by designing 'smart' forecast‐based decisions as well as simple decision‐based forecasts. The aim is to bridge the gap between science and the humanitarian sector, and help translate early warning into early action.
It details successful examples of collaboration between forecasters and the risk managers. These include the 2008 emergency appeal, launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) West and Central Africa Zone, to prepare for flooding based on a seasonal rainfall forecast.
The paper describes how unlike previous years, where forecasts had been greeted with confusion, a partnership between the IFRC and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society allowed the flood forecast and accompanying uncertainty to be communicated effectively to the humanitarian policymakers, enabling them to act in time.
It proposes a framework based on four key attributes of science-based forecasts: the likely location of the event, its magnitude, its lead time (how far into the future it is likely to occur) and, its probability. These are then linked, respectively, to vulnerability, expected loss, range of plausible actions and whether or not to act.
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Progress reports on countries' efforts towards the Hyogo Framework for Action can be found here, as well as news and feature articles.
There are also training and educational materials; hazard profiles and maps; and publications on emerging themes. Information is organised by hazard type, theme, and country or region.