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SRSG Mizutori's remarks at Early Warnings for Small Island Developing States – Bridging the Capacity Gap by 2030 - COP 26 side event

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Ladies and Gentlemen

It has been an enriching discussion on a very important issue.

Small island developing States are at the forefront of the climate emergency and suffer from “double exposure” to both economic and environmental shocks.

If the world’s future is uncertain, then the future of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is only more so.

Vanuatu’s graduation from Least Developed Country status was delayed by five years following a devastating cyclone in 2015.

Another small island developing State in the Caribbean, Dominica, lost the equivalent of 240% of GDP in the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Such events erode development gains and can destroy critical infrastructure including schools, health facilities, transport links and public utilities.

It is clear why SIDS were among the first to ratify the Paris Agreement and have followed up with concrete and decisive climate actions.

For instance:

  • The Pacific islands have led the way in developing and implementing integrated risk governance mechanisms to break down the silos between climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

  • The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) has inspired many countries on innovations in risk transfer supported by risk pooling.

  • Several island States continue to improve multi-hazard early warning systems by expanding the services offered by national and regional hydro-meteorological centers.

However, challenges remain, including weak data collection and analysis, capacity constraints, and lack of coordination.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction:

  • Acknowledges that SIDS face specific disaster risks and need support through finance, technology transfer and capacity building.

  • Sendai Framework Target G aims to substantially increase the availability of, and access to, multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments by 2030.

The Sendai Framework also promotes regional multi-hazard early warning mechanisms at global/regional level.

The reality is that many SIDS still lack access to adequate multi-hazard early warning systems. To meet the needs by 2030, we need to do the following:

Invest in data

  • For early warning to be effective, it needs to be based on solid evidence and comprehensive risk assessments.

  • UNDRR supports national disaster loss databases in over 110 countries. And over 150 countries are reporting against the Sendai Framework targets through the Sendai Framework Monitor. Several countries are already benefiting from the Global Risk Assessment Framework which is a useful tool for early and anticipatory action. Together these initiatives provide a strong data ecosystem for early warning systems.

Provide tailor-made technical assistance

  • We are pleased to have initiated a programme across several LDCs and SIDS to boost risk analysis as the foundation for integrated climate and disaster risk management.

Be inclusive

  • Early warning systems are about the people, who provide, receive, and act on the early warnings.

  • We need to ensure that communities are fully engaged in early warning systems for them to be effective in triggering early action. Within CREWS projects in Asia and the Pacific, UNDRR has a specific focus on ensuring that the systems are sensitive to the needs of persons with disabilities.

Make financing predictable

  • A key priority is to deliver on the promises that have been made.

Disaster related ODA must shift towards disaster risk reduction projects financed before disasters strike rather than after the event.

When commitments are made, they need to be delivered on. Twelve years ago, a commitment was made to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance to developing countries by 2020 and this is now further delayed.

I would also like to highlight some opportunities that will be of interest in the context of early warning systems and SIDS.

  • The Mid-term review of the Sendai Framework is now underway. This provides an opportunity to take stock of how best to overcome the specific constraints facing SIDS in deploying early warning systems.

  • The 2022 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction will have sessions on this topic and will be organized concurrently with the Multi-hazard Early Warning Conference.

  • In 2022, WMO Day on 23 March and the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on 13 October, will both focus on increasing access to multi-hazard early warning systems.

  • There is also a need to ensure coherence across relevant initiatives to move the agenda forward including the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) and the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP).

I would like to conclude with a strong call to action. We need to:

  • Dramatically raise ambition and action for reducing and managing risks due to climate change: The new Adaptation Gap Report from the UN Environment Programme states that estimated adaptation costs in developing countries are five to ten times greater than what they currently receive. This is unacceptable. A 50/50 share between adaptation and mitigation in climate finance is urgently required for developing countries.

  • Significantly increase support for averting, minimizing and addressing losses and damages​: UNDRR looks forward to supporting the operationalization of the Santiago Network to provide technical assistance to developing countries.

  • Accelerate predictable and risk-informed investments and financing: All climate and development investment and financing should be predictable and risk-informed to better respond to longer term planning needs.

My concluding thought is that an investment in early warning is an investment in early action. Once a warning has been disseminated it opens a window of opportunity to save lives and reduce economic losses.

Thank you for your attention.