WMO-backed initiatives to improve weather forecasts and early warnings and strengthen the resilience of communities on the frontline of climate change have been bolstered by important new financial commitments during the UN climate change negotiations, COP27.
The United States, Canada and European countries all announced new donations to projects aimed at saving lives and livelihoods in the most vulnerable countries in Africa, Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
In a special appearance at COP27, U.S. President Joe Biden said that a raft of new U.S. funding initiatives to help developing countries “cope with a problem they did not create.”
“According to the World Meteorological Organization, the past eight years have been the warmest on record,” said President Biden as he went on to elaborate on how his administration will “strengthen U.S. leadership tackling the climate crisis and galvanize global action and commitments” on both adaptation and mitigation.
Specifically on adaptation, the President said the USA would expand access to early-warning systems for all of Africa. The continent is one of the priority targets of a UN-wide campaign spearheaded by WMO to achieve Early Warnings for All in the next five years.
He said a $13.6 million contribution to the Systematic Observations Financing Facility that will help fill weather, water, and climate observation gaps in Africa. In addition, the United States will also invest $15 million to support the co-development and deployment of early-warning systems in Africa, leveraging the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s long-standing relationships with national and regional weather services across Africa.
Eight initial partners have already made a financial contribution to the SOFF UN Fund: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, the United States and the Nordic Development Fund. Spanish President Pedro Sanchez announced a financial contribution from his country, and Norway has also pledged a substantial increase in its contribution.
Governments also announced additional funding to another WMO-backed initiative, the
Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative.
Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault confirmed that Canada would contribute CAN $10 million over the next four years to CREWS to support the most vulnerable.
“Climate change is the biggest long-term threat of our generation and is affecting the frequency, duration and intensity of severe weather events worldwide. Through these important initiatives to help vulnerable countries abroad, are helping to promote preparedness and resilience among some of the world’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations,” said Minister Guilbeault.
France, which spearheaded the establishment of CREWS in 2015, said it would double its annual commitment to 8 million Euros, starting in 2023. Switzerland announced additional funding of 4 million Euros. Austria also pledged a contribution.
CREWS already supports 75 countries and has received nearly US$80 million in contributions. It has won acclaim for its grassroots approach and projects that have a practical impact at local level.
Canada has already supported projects worth CAN$10 million in the Pacific, South East Asia and the Caribbean. These were showcased at a side event at COP27, which highlighted the commitment to local, community projects.
“What you are doing really matters on the ground,” said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Dr Elena Manaenkova. “This is so motivating. It tells us we really are on the right track to achieve early warnings in the next five years.”
Caribbean: Canadian CREWS funding helped national meteorological and hydrological services boost their capacity and authority through the development of strategic plans and multi-hazard early warning systems
The Caribbean is exposed to multiple hazards – hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and sand and dust storms.
“Canada CREWS funding has helped us deal with the fundamentals which allow meteorological services to access resources within their governments and to set up sustainable mechanisms to provide forecasts and multi-hazard early warning services,” said Arlene Laing of the British Caribbean Territories.
Pacific: Niue used Canada CREWS funding to mobilize boys and girls brigades to engage the wider community.
Tonga: Canada CREWS funding allowed the purchases of an automatic weather station for one isolated community, which previously had to light a warning fire as a distress signal. It also set up a microwave link to a neighbouring island to connect the community with mobile phone services.
“We are linking the multi-hazard early warning systems approach to educate the community that this will improve their livelihoods. We can get the communities to engage because they can see the importance of it,” said ‘Ofa Fa’anunu, head of Tonga’s national meteorological and hydrological service.
South East Asia: Canada CREWS funding enabled the establishment of the Southeast Asia Flash Flood Guidance System (SeAFFGS), ushering in the prospect of improved early warnings for a major natural hazard, which accounts for a significant portion of the lives lost and property damages due to flooding in the region. It is operated by the Viet Nam Meteorological and Hydrological Administration (VNMHA), which is providing effective flash flood guidance and forecasts within Viet Nam and will act as the regional center covering Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Thailand, providing forecast products, data, and training.
“We cannot do it ourselves. We need the support for other countries in the region and in the world. Together we can build up a very effective ews for the region and contribute to the goals of UN that in five years every country in the world we have access to early warning systems,” said Anh Do Tiem of Viet Nam’s national meteorological and hydrological service.
Source: World Meteorological Organization