Anticipatory action as a way to address climate risks in the Arab region
On 29 March 2022, ECHO, IFRC, REAP, ODI and WFP took part in the first ever Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Climate Week, joining a virtual panel discussion on ‘Anticipatory action as a way to address climate risks in the Arab Region’.
During the session, moderated by Ben Webster, the REAP head of secretariat, the panellists discussed how partners and actors can collaborate and act to scale-up anticipatory action in the Arab region. Setting the scene, Lena Weingärtner, a research associate at, ODI, presented the current state of play for anticipatory action in the MENA region. She highlighted ongoing progress in strengthening the foundations for anticipatory action in some countries, as well as the opportunities to advance in others – from incremental changes to more comprehensive reforms in disaster risk management policies, processes and systems.
Oscar Ekdahl, MENA regional head of resilience and livelihoods at WFP, stated that “accelerating anticipatory action is about connecting pieces of a larger puzzle, [which] links early warning and forecasting with planning, delivery of actions and financing mechanisms”. He also noted that while anticipatory action globally focuses on natural hazards, in the MENA region – while there are climate risks, including, heat waves, drought and floods –economic shocks and conflicts are also key drivers of vulnerability. This can present critical challenges when it comes to accelerating action.
The speakers agreed that investments are needed in all major aspects of anticipatory action in the Arab region. This includes: planning for disaster risk management policies, processes and systems; investments in risk information and data; engaging different stakeholders and working with communities; establishing delivery and funding mechanisms; and building the evidence to drive the anticipatory action approach forward. Nicolas Govaert, rapid response coordinator MENA, ECHO, addressed the funding landscape for anticipatory action, noting that there is a “key need to foster investing in science, data and analytics to create the evidence-based foundations” that can demonstrate the effectiveness of anticipatory action to different stakeholders, and support a push to institutionalize the approach.
Hosam Faysal, MENA head of disaster and crisis prevention, response and recovery at IFRC, highlighted the impact of anticipatory action and planning on the efficiency of emergency responses, particularly at community level: “We need to keep a people-centred approach; that means communities are part of the design and the full cycle of any anticipatory actions.” Closing this engaging session, Omar Farook, MENA climate services specialist at WFP, highlighted the need to keep engaging, and to maintain communities of practice and dialogues on anticipatory action in order to build capacities and strengthen collaboration in the region.