WMO and the Early Warnings for All Initiative

Huge wave crashing into a lighthouse
Heungsoon Park - WMO 2023 Calendar Competition

The 2023 Global Status of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems report launched at COP28 analyses the latest data one year into the Early Warnings for All Initiative which aims to cover everyone everywhere by 2027. An interactive Early Warnings for All Dashboard is now also available.

Behind every warning lies the pivotal role of observation and forecasting

The Early Warnings for All initiative is a groundbreaking effort to ensure everyone on Earth is protected from hazardous weather, water, or climate events through life-saving early warning systems by the end of 2027.

With human-induced climate change leading to more extreme weather conditions, the need for early warning systems is more crucial than ever.

Despite the urgent need, only half of the countries worldwide report having adequate multi-hazard early warning systems. 

Early warning systems are not a luxury but a cost-effective tool that saves lives, reduces economic losses, and provides a nearly tenfold return on investment.

The Early Warnings for All initiative is co-led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), with support from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other partners.

A diagram showing a circle with different types of devices.
Early Warnings for All value chain diagram

The delivery of Early Warnings for All requires scale up and coordinated investments and action across the four essential pillars of end to end, people-centred Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS): 

  1. Disaster risk knowledge
  2. Detection, observation, monitoring, analysis, and forecasting
  3. Warning dissemination and communication
  4. Preparedness and response capabilities

Pillar 2 is led by WMO with support from UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Early Warning Systems are underpinned by a global upward reporting of surface and space-based observation data, exchanged freely between all countries, and ingested into several highly advanced supercomputing modelling centres. These centres run numerical models which replicate the physical interactions of the full Earth System (weather, hydrology, ocean, cryosphere and more) to create predictions, which are then cascaded back down from global to regional and national levels, so that National Hydrological and Meteorological Services can provide forecast services to their citizens. Without this daily, complex, global effort enabled by WMO, modern day weather and hydrology forecasts would not be possible. Thus, Pillar 2 is critical for societies to be better equipped to understand, prepare for, and respond to the evolving challenges of our changing climate.

A diagram showing the different stages of climate change.

Challenges in Establishing Early Warning Systems - Pillar 2 Focus

Pillar 2 aims to close critical gaps such as:

  • Only a third of WMO Members and Territories report having multi-hazard monitoring and forecasting system.
  • Critical gaps in surface and upper air meteorological observations across Africa, parts of the Pacific and West of Latin America.
  • Just over half of countries (56 per cent) report using hazard, exposure, vulnerability data in their forecasts, delimiting the progress on impact-based forecasting and warning (IBFW)
  • 67 per cent of WMO Members report having warning and alerting services available 24/7
  • 38 per cent of Members report having legal arrangements to enable MHEWS
  • From the NMHS of the 30 countries initially selected for Early Warnings for All coordinated assistance, half operate with basic monitoring and forecasting capacity and close to a quarter with less-than-basic capacity.

Pillar 2 Implementation Plan in response to these challenges is focused on delivering 5 outcomes:

  • Increased availability of quality observation data to assess and monitor priority hazards.
  • Enhanced data exchange and access for forecasting and warning systems.
  • Increased capabilities to forecast all priority hydrometeorological hazards.
  • Impact-based forecasts and warnings are produced for all priority hazards.
  • Strengthened relevant policy, institutional mechanisms, and stakeholder engagement processes in place to support MHEWSs

Improving data quality and access:

It's essential to have more high-quality data available for checking and keeping an eye on major dangers. This data forms the backbone of services for weather, climate, and water. We need to make sure countries can get to and use this data to watch over their main risks.

Sharing data worldwide:

Ensuring easy sharing and access to data globally is paramount, particularly when it comes to forecasting and issuing early warnings. Organizations tasked with collecting or generating data sets, creating forecast products, refining information, and offering storage services play a pivotal role in this effort. Our goal is to enable smooth data sharing across local, national, and global scales while keeping it cost-effective.

Enhancing forecasting capabilities:

Our focus is on refining the utilization of predictive tools for significant weather-associated challenges. Leveraging improved data, advanced computational power, and deepening insights into weather dynamics, our weather forecasting precision is enhancing. As we coordinate member capabilities, we prepare and distribute meteorological analyses and forecast products for all Members, ensuring the provision of consistent and harmonized services, which is essential for our future readiness.

Proactive measures for early action:

It's essential that our forecasts and alerts adhere to international standards. Strengthened by regional partnerships and bolstered by advanced tools and training, we're dedicated to enabling every nation to issue round-the-clock warnings. Our commitment isn't just about predicting severe weather events; we also emphasize the associated dangers. Such detailed insights equip communities to effectively brace themselves, safeguarding residences, infrastructure, and their environment.

Establishing robust leadership frameworks:

Robust governance is pivotal, which involves crafting appropriate policies, establishing efficient organizations, and ensuring collective participation to facilitate prompt warnings and actions. Such frameworks also foster platforms for knowledge exchange and discussions on current advancements and trends in disaster risk reduction.

The 193-Member Congress, which is the WMO’s top decision-making body, has accorded that Early Warnings for All is the top overriding priority of the organization, as enshrined in the WMO Strategic Plan 2024–2027

Accordingly, key WMO activities are coordinated and consolidated under the Early Warnings for All umbrella including the work of the technical commissions and regional activities aligned to achieve the goal.

National Meteorological and Hydrological Services are the official and authoritative providers of early warnings for hydrometeorological hazards.

Systematic Observing Financing Facility (SOFF):

The SOFF is a UN vertical fund co-created by WMO, UNDP, and UNEP to close the climate and weather observations data gap in countries with the most severe shortfalls in observations, prioritizing Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Learn more about SOFF

Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS):

WMO hosts the secretariat of the CREWS. CREWS provides financing to LDCs and SIDS for people-centred risk informed early warning systems to reduce vulnerability and strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity.

Learn more about CREWS

An aerial view of flooded huts in cambodia.
Early Warnings for All Dashboard
The dashboard aims at tracking progress, informing decision-making and measuring success as key elements for achieving its five-year goal of the Initiative: to ensure that all people on Earth are covered by early warning systems by 2027.
Download: Executive Action Plan 2023-2027
Early Warnings for All: Executive Action Plan 2023-2027 (The UN Global Early Warning Initiative for the Implementation of Climate Adaptation)

Today, one third of the world’s people, mainly in least developed countries and small island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems... This is unacceptable, particularly with climate impacts sure to get even worse. Early warnings and action save lives. To that end, today I announce the United Nations will spearhead new action to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years. 

 UN Secretary-General António Guterres on World Meteorological Day 23 March 2022 

Early Warnings for All Partners:

Early Warnings for All Initiative main website
The Early Warnings for All initiative brings together the broader UN system, governments, civil society and development partners across the public and private sectors to enhance collaboration and accelerated action to address gaps and deliver people-centered, end-to-end multi-hazard early warning systems that leave no one behind.