24 Jun 2024

Looking ahead to the first MENA Dialogue Platform

The first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Dialogue Platform will take place from 10 to 12 July 2024 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Helen Ticehurst, regional manager for MENA at the Met Office in the UK, tells us what’s coming up at this strategic regional event.

The MENA Dialogue Platform will be one the first opportunities for the region’s anticipatory action stakeholders to meet. What are the priorities for discussion?

It will be great to see this community coming together to discuss how they can make better use of weather forecasts and longer-range information, such as seasonal outlooks, to inform planning, preparation and action in humanitarian responses.

It will also be interesting to explore how humanitarian and meteorological partners can work together to shape and enhance forecasts so that they are fit for purpose for anticipatory action in conflict settings, and so can support groups such as internally displaced people (IDPs), refugees and refugee host communities.

The theme for this inaugural event is ‘Preparing for the (un)predictable: connecting the dots’. Which dots need to be connected in the MENA region, in terms of anticipatory action?

Existing weather forecasts in the region may not always be suitable for supporting anticipatory action, as they haven’t been co-produced between the users and producers of these services. This dialogue platform represents a fantastic opportunity to bring together those two groups, and to start making the key connections.

There is also a chance to look at how the region could better prepare for weather- and climate-related hazards. For example, the Weather and Climate Information Services’ (WISER) MENA programme was built on a scoping exercise that highlighted how IDPs and refugee populations are disproportionately affected by weather extremes, yet are often not covered by anticipatory action schemes. The upcoming dialogue platform is an opportunity to stimulate interest in, and the uptake of, anticipatory action for those who are not yet reached through thus approach; the region’s Anticipatory Action Community of Practice is also important in this respect.

The WISER programme is one of the organizing partners for the MENA Dialogue Platform. Can you tell us a little about its work in the region?

Weather and Climate Information Services (WISER) is a global programme that seeks to support the generation of useful, usable and used weather and climate services. Funded by UK International Development and delivered by the UK’s Met Office. In the MENA region, WISER has four focus areas:

  1. supporting vulnerable populations in the region from the impacts of extreme weather (e.g., providing operational forecasts in Yemen to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the World Food Programme)
  2. strengthening seasonal forecasting in the region, in partnership with Maroc Meteo, Morocco’s met service
  3. building understanding and awareness of how weather and climate information can build resilience in a changing climate
  4. supporting other regional initiatives.

WISER MENA is delivered through a mixture of main grants and small grants, technical assistance, Met Office partnerships and regional cooperation.

Finally, what are you personally looking forward to at the MENA Dialogue Platform?

I have attended lots of dialogue platforms and love the way they bring together a diverse range of actors to share insights and stimulate ideas. Considering that this is the first dialogue platform in the MENA region, it represents a flagship moment for signalling commitment to anticipatory action in this part of the world. WISER MENA hopes it can create momentum around anticipatory action in a region that faces multiple challenges, including the increasing frequency and severity of climate-related disasters.

The first MENA Dialogue Platform is hosted by the Anticipation Hub, an initiative of the German Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, and co-organized by WFP. The event is funded by UK International Development through the Weather and Climate Information Services (WISER) programme, led by the Met Office, and by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Photo from Shutterstock.