Community conversation #14: Black swans and sitting ducks – preparing the humanitarian sector for unprecedented weather events

Date & Time

Thursday, 1st of February 2024; 14:00 - 16:00 CET




The Galveston Hurricane (1900), the Pacific Northwest heatwave (2021), and Cyclone Freddy (2023) all have in common that they were unparalleled in record and memory in some way or another. How should we prepare for events that we have never experienced before? This question is increasingly concerning humanitarian emergency managers. As both climate change and shifting patterns of vulnerability and exposure change weather patterns and humanitarian impacts, emergency managers to find new ways to prepare for new risks. This is the topic of a research programme currently run by Dorothy Heinrich, Erin Coughlan de Perez, and Liz Stephens, (from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre) to explore ways that the humanitarian sector should prepare for events of unprecedented time, space, and degree.

This 2-hour workshop hosted on the Anticipation Hub and run by Dorothy, Erin, and Liz aims to be a next step for this conversation. They have developed a typology of unprecedented weather events that would like to propose it to emergency managers in the Hub community of practice, gather feedback, and discuss preparedness requirements to these risks. The results of the workshop will be used to inform a research agenda on this topic.

There are four general aims to this workshop:

  • Increase awareness of unprecedented weather and the humanitarian risks these pose.  
  • Define unprecedented weather through a humanitarian lens.  
  • Discuss how the humanitarian sector could be preparing for unprecedented weather and the role of early warning early action in this preparedness.  
  • Develop a group of interested actors within the community of practice to engage in further research and practice initiatives.

Please join us in the new year and contribute to the conversation!