Submitted by Kara Devonna Siahaan
16 Jan 2023

A new year – and a new phase for the Anticipation Hub

At the start of 2022, we called for more evidence, stronger synergies and increased commitments to support anticipatory action. It was encouraging to see these requests coming to fruition during the year. 

Several high-level commitments were made during 2022. In May, the G7 Foreign Ministries issued a statement to strengthen anticipatory action in humanitarian assistance, while the UN Secretary General launched the Early Warning for All initiative at COP27. At the regional level, ASEAN led by example through the launch of the ASEAN Framework for Anticipatory Action in Disaster Management. The Maputo Declaration on Bridging the Gap between Early Warning and Early Action called on governments to ensure all citizens in Southern African Development Community are covered by effective systems for early warning and early action, by supporting these and taking an active, people-centred role. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, including its National Societies in 192 countries, stepped up its commitment to anticipatory action through its Council of Delegates adopting the resolution ‘Strengthening anticipatory action in the Movement: Our way forward’, in which it commits to scale up anticipatory action. This will allow the Movement to better assist people in vulnerable situations, while maintaining and building on its role as a champion in this area. 

Synergies were also strengthened in 2022. The launch of the Global Shield against Climate Risks, a partnership between the Vulnerable Twenty (V20) and G7 countries, signalled the growing synergy between the development and humanitarian agendas. It will support actors working on anticipatory action in poor and vulnerable people and countries, who face an increasing risk of losses and damages from climate change. Through the Future Leaders Network on Early Warning Early Action, launched at the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in May, the Anticipation Hub commits to connect, inspire and empower future leaders and early-career professionals in this sector to collaborate on translating early warning information into anticipatory action on the ground.

The evidence base for anticipatory action also grew in 2022. In November, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society received the Averted Disasters Award, which embraces a new approach to measuring successes in risk management by using evidence and counterfactuals. The year ended with open and critical conversations at the 10th Global Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action, at which over 1,000 participants from 140 countries reflected on the theme ‘Are we getting it right?’. Together, they consolidated the lessons learned from the past seven years to continue improving implementation.

Most importantly, 2022 saw the highest number of countries implementing anticipatory action to date. Plans were activated and funds released in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, which were used to protect people against the predicted impacts of tropical storms, floods, heat waves, drought and epidemics. These country-led efforts were implemented by Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, the Start Network NGOs and UN agencies, and supported by predictable financing mechanisms. These activities were complemented by cross-regional exchanges and technical assistance, and facilitated by the multisectoral and interagency experts who continued to apply the lessons learned over the years, at national, regional and global levels.

This progress in the anticipatory action sector is timely.  This year began with the UK Met Office predicting one of the hottest years on record. The anticipatory action community should prepare itself for another year of potentially devastating impacts of people suffering from rising temperatures, including drought, desertification and heat-related illness. This prediction comes on top of widespread food insecurity, the higher cost of living exacerbated by the energy crisis, conflict and its rippling effects, societal polarization and a global health system that has yet to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Global Risk Report 2023 outlines. With these and other challenges ahead, it is now more important than ever for scientists, practitioners and policy-makers to support anticipatory approaches in the face of compounding risks.

What does the Anticipation Hub offer in 2023?

With funding from the German Federal Foreign Office, the Anticipation Hub will begin its next phase of implementation, which runs from January 2023 to December 2025. We will focus on the following areas in 2023.

1. Continue promoting tools and approaches to accelerate action 

Building on the wealth of available guidance and technical manuals from leading agencies, the Anticipation Hub will create learning tools and activities that match the needs of the broad audience who are interested and/or involved in developing anticipatory action, from beginners to experts. We will work with regional partners, such as ASEAN´s Disaster Information Lab and ICPAC, to support their efforts to expand learning and exchange. Through our working groups on conflict, health, earth observation, protection, gender and inclusion, and risk financing, we will support new collaborations that improve practice. We also welcome the new multiagency working group on anticipatory action and health, co-led by OCHA, the Climate Centre and Médecins Sans Frontières. We will also continue to share the lessons learned, from new methods to making funding more accessible for local actors, and report on new ways to implement anticipatory action, such as the Simplified Early Action Protocols being piloted by the IFRC. 

2. Champion impactful implementation, inclusion and locally led efforts to scale up anticipatory action 

While there has been encouraging progress in regional and global commitments, governments and organizations must ensure that discussions are informed by the needs and aspirations of people at risk. Strategies must address barriers and enablers that exist in many of the countries and contexts where anticipatory action is most needed. Work plans have to be developed transparently and done through a consultative, cross-sector collaboration. Alongside capacities to strengthen national institutions and infrastructures, more efforts must be made to enable local organizations and households to implement anticipatory action on their own, for example through the use of digital technologies, or adapting common alerting protocols for use at the local level. Based on evidence and in collaboration with partners, the Anticipation Hub will inform dialogues and policy processes through its advocacy activities, case studies and briefs.

There is also a need to maintain conceptual clarity about what anticipatory action means. This is not about creating siloes or superficial divisions across sectors, but to enable us to collectively measure the impacts of anticipatory action as this will drive investments in the years to come. The Anticipation Hub will contribute to meeting these needs through its work to track progress in growing number of countries implementing anticipatory action – which now number more than 70. For example, in 2023 we will publish a report analysing the current situation around the world.

3. Nurture the anticipatory action community by supporting networks and bottom-up approaches 

As of today, the Anticipation Hub has 106 partners from 39 countries, representing the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, UN agencies, NGOs, governments, academia, think tanks and other networks. Such diverse partnerships allow us to better understand the needs in various regions and support a range of thematic areas by drawing on the expertise of these partners. Through the Global and Regional Dialogue Platforms, we continue to attract new people and organizations to exchange and learn about anticipatory action: for example, more than half of the participants at the Global Dialogue Platform in 2022 were joining for the first time. As further evidence that this community is growing, the Anticipation Hub’s online resources attracted an average of 2,750 monthly visitors in 2022.

To ensure that these services and products are informed by and serve national efforts to scale up anticipatory action, we welcome interest in collaborations and partnerships from national agencies, especially disaster management and hydrometeorological services. Having focused on consolidating global knowledge during our initial phase (2020-2022), we will now shift towards supporting the bottom-up creation of bespoke learning and exchange activities. Alongside this, we will support and strengthen the expansion of anticipatory action communities at the regional and national levels, working through our 27 regional and thematic experts based at the IFRC, the German Red Cross and the Climate Centre locations in 15 countries. And through activities led by the Anticipation Hub, we will nurture alliances and networks that support the work of academics, early-career professionals, practitioners and experts from in the Asia-Pacific, Africa, Americas and MENA regions.

Come and join us, and the wider anticipatory action community, to tackle the challenges of 2023 with new ideas, fresh energy and the spirit of collaboration!

By Kara Devonna Siahaan, Head of the Anticipation Hub