Submitted by Elina Väänänen (REAP)
3 Feb 2021 , last updated 3 Feb 2021

Getting ahead of the climate curve: Investing in Early Warning and Early Action


"One person in three is still not adequately covered by early warning systems, and risk-informed early approaches are not at the scale required. We need to work together to ensure full global coverage by early warning systems to help minimize these losses."


With these words the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres drew attention to the urgent need for more effective and joined up efforts on early warning and early action at the opening session of the virtual Climate Adaptation Summit.

The need to get ahead of the climate curve by investing in early warning and early action was also the focus of an Anchoring Event on Disaster Risk Management, one of the action themes of the Climate Adaptation Summit. The event addressed the need to consistently ensure that early warnings result in early action in advance of climate hazards striking. The event was co-hosted by the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) through the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

In an introductory video to the event, REAP and CREWS partners set out the rationale for early warnings and early action in the face of the intensifying impacts of climate change.

The event saw IFRC secretary General Jagan Chapagain launch REAP’s Framework for Action, which sets out how its partners will achieve the ambitious targets of the partnership, making 1 billion people safer from disasters. The event also announced new financial commitments from France, Finland and the European Commission to CREWS to build early warning systems capacity. Finland’s commitment to CREWS also contributes to the achievement of REAP’s targets.

The anchoring event highlighted the importance of ensuring people are at the center of early warning and early action. Minister Gale Rigobert of St Lucia, the Co-Chair of the REAP’s Board, stressed the need to tailor solutions to local and regional needs to be effective. The DARAJA project, meaning ‘bridge’ in Swahili, provided an example of how it could be done in practice.  In informal settlements in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, DARAJA has successfully built bridges between communities and weather and climate information providers. In the words of Stella Stephen of the Centre for Community Initiatives: “To make early warnings accessible and relevant to vulnerable users, scientists and communities need to work together and listen to each other”.

This sentiment was echoed by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience, and Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth of the United Kingdom, who said: “We need to keep people, especially the most vulnerable, at the forefront of early warning-early action discussions”. Minister Trevelyan called for new partners to join the Risk-Informed Early Action Partnership and urged partners to set out their commitments under REAP’s Framework for Action.

UN Special Climate envoy Selwin Hart said he was encouraged by the ambitious commitments to scale-up action on early warning and early action through CREWS and REAP. “The partnership we have seen today between CREWS and REAP is exactly what is needed to help bridge the early warning to early action divide, to protect lives and livelihoods from the climate crisis,” said Mr Hart.

The virtual Summit, hosted by the Netherlands, was the first high-level climate meeting entirely focused on climate adaptation, with over 18,500 registered participants. The anchoring event on Disaster Risk Management was amongst the Summit’s five most visited sessions, with 8,268 pageviews.

This video summarizes the anchoring event in 3 minutes:

ICYMI Full Anchoring Event Recap