Submitted by Kara Devonna Siahaan
2 Feb 2022

2022: the year to transform commitments on anticipatory action into practice

Tajikistan: Cold Wave Simulation January 2020. Photo (c) German Red Cross

Alongside the implementation of anticipatory action, 2021 saw increased ambition to expand and scale up this approach, to meet the needs arising from crises all over the world. For example, as part of the G7 famine prevention and humanitarian crises compact, Member States committed to increase anticipatory action throughout the humanitarian system and support global financing pools, such as the UN’s CERF, IFRC’s DREF, and the Start Fund. This commitment will help ensure that organizations can access the finance needed to act ahead of shocks.

In September, OCHA and the governments of Germany and the UK convened a high-level event on anticipatory action, where more than 75 governments and 60 agencies, international financial institutions and private sector companies made new pledges - worth millions of dollars - to support anticipatory action. Germany, for example, committed at least 5 per cent of its overall humanitarian funding to anticipatory approaches in the next two years, while aiming to double its contribution to anticipatory action in 2022.

While COP26 in November fell short of its targets, several governments announced new initiatives or funding for adaptation to enable anticipatory action. Through its PREPARE initiative, the US government committed to strengthening early warning systems and developing forecast-based financing programmes. And the CREWS initiative received a top-up from its donors, bringing its overall portfolio to 80 million US dollars; this will provide further support for least developed countries and small island developing states. Beyond strengthening hydrometeorological institutions and infrastructures, the CREWS steering committee affirms the need to work closely with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to ensure that early warnings translate into anticipatory action for and with people at risk.

There was undoubtedly progress in terms of commitments in 2021 - now we must transform these into action. Here are three ways to achieve this in 2022.

1. Generate more evidence to inform decisions

‘Faster, cheaper and more dignified’ has become the motto for anticipatory action, yet the evidence on what works, for whom and in which contexts remains limited. If the humanitarian sector wants to scale up its work, and get more organizations and governments on board, it must continue to generate the evidence needed to support decision-makers.

Building on initiatives such as SHEAR, new research programmes such as the CLARE initiative and the Academic Alliance for Anticipatory Action can help to build the evidence we need. With six of the seven universities in the Academic Alliance located in Asia and Africa, there is a positive shift from traditional USA or European-centric research programmes to embracing the knowledge and expertise in the countries where anticipatory action is being implemented.

In parallel, tools to systematically collect this evidence include the new Comprehensive Guidance for Monitoring and Evaluating Anticipatory Action produced by WFP and the Climate Centre, which will be a key asset for actors in measuring how anticipatory action makes a difference. And the Anticipation Hub has a growing evidence database - please add your own findings!

Contribute to our evidence database!

Photo: Cash distribution at Kurigram 2020 flood early action. (c) German Red Cross

2. Grow our community and strengthen synergies

To do more anticipatory action, there must be more people working and collaborating on this approach. It's promising, therefore, to see an upward trend of people wanting to engage. In just one year, 87 partners have joined the Anticipation Hub. Our latest partners include UNDRR, Tearfund, World Vision, the HUMLOG Institute and IGAD Climate Predictions and Applications Centre (ICPAC). You can find all our partners in the new anticipatory action community directory.

This trend was reflected at the regional and global dialogue platforms. Beginning in 2015 as a ‘niche’ workshop attended by just 40 forecast-based financing enthusiasts, the virtual editions of the annual events in 2021 gathered up to 2,500 attendees* from at least 131 countries. Together with our partner organizations - the German Red Cross, IFRC, the Climate Centre, FAO, WFP, the Start Network and OCHA - we will continue to make learning, networking and influencing across sectors and at all levels more accessible for all in 2022.

Through knowledge exchange and the co-development of joint solutions across sectors, the anticipatory action community can also strengthen synergies to tackle ongoing challenges, such as why early warnings do not always lead to early action. By supporting the rollout of the updated version of the WMO’s Guidelines on Multi-hazard Impact-based Forecast and Warning Services, more national disaster management agencies, hydrometeorological services and humanitarian organizations can work together to develop anticipatory action, including through encouraging peer-to-peer learning. Cross-sectoral in nature and action-oriented, the Anticipation Hub working groups continue to provide a space to innovate and advance emerging topics, such as earth observation, risk financing, conflict, and protection, gender and health.

Join our dialogue platforms and working groups, and browse our community directory!

Photo (c) storytile

3. More commitments

To continue turning commitments into practice, we need… more commitments! In 2022, 274 million people are expected to need humanitarian assistance and protection, which is a significant increase on 2021. Resources invested in anticipatory action must increase in tandem with these needs. As part of its G7 presidency, Germany has identified anticipatory humanitarian assistance as one of its priorities. Anticipatory action is expected to be high on the agenda at the European Humanitarian Forum, with a dedicated pre-event webinar advocating for investment in evidence-building and expansion to fragile and conflict-affected areas.

There will also be opportunities at the UN Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction to advocate for stronger inclusion of anticipatory action within national disaster risk management systems, as a way to support implementation of the Sendai Framework. And particularly with regard to the ‘loss and damage’ debate, COP27 in Egypt can potentially provide another avenue to offer anticipatory action as a major tool to address the climate challenge. REAP continues to gather support from governments and organizations in this respect.

For anticipatory action to become truly mainstream, a systemwide shift is required: one that delivers sustained political will and advances relevant policies. The Anticipation Hub looks forward to serving the growing anticipatory action community and working with all of you in 2022. Join us!

Get involved in advocacy!

Photo: High-level event on global climate action at COP23.  

By Kara Devonna Siahaan, head of the Anticipation Hub

* This is the total number across all the dialogue platforms; of course, some people will have attended more than one event.