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International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning

International Early Warning Programme  
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Platform for the Promotion
of Early Warning
Hermann-Ehlers-Strasse 10
D-53113 Bonn, Germany
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Media alert


UN-led global early warning system takes shape

A United Nations expert meeting on building an international early warning programme starts in Germany

BONN/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 26 March 2007 (UN/ISDR) – Scientists and advisors from 20 specialized United Nations bodies will spend the next two days at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany to decide how a people-centred early-warning system can be implemented worldwide.

The UN-led initiative started in 2003 to help reduce the impact of natural disasters through effective early warning systems.

This first Advisory Group Meeting of the International Early Warning Programme (IEWP) will provide the international community with an opportunity to start shaping how the IEWP should operate in the coming years. The advice provided during this session will determine IEWP’s long-term character. In particular, participants will assess the recommendations of the Global Survey of Early Warning Systems to build a more comprehensive alert platform that includes all types of natural hazards.

Over the past two years alone more than 1,000 disasters events have occurred around the planet on every continent. This represents more than one major disaster incident per day. These extreme loss events have affected the livelihoods and wealth of some 200 million citizens.

Insurance companies indicate that an estimated damage of approximately USD 300 billion had thus to be accounted for across the global economy during this same period.

“Disasters triggered by natural hazards will happen again, often unpredictably, always erratically,” said Salvano Briceño, the top UN-official on Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR). “While the hazards cannot be prevented, their impact can be decreased if vulnerable communities have been enabled to develop sufficient resilience to cope with them. The International Early Warning Programme is a critical instrument in establishing a strong framework for such global early warning systems,” he explained.

To facilitate implementation of the proposed programme and to strengthen cross-sector partnerships, the Bonn-based UN/ISDR Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning is assisting actors in both the public and private sectors to sustain a dialogue on early warning.

This June, when Parties to the Hyogo Framework for Action will gather in Geneva at the First Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, the outcome of the Bonn expert meeting will form the basis for discussions on interagency initiatives on this issue.

The United Nations system needs to take a leadership role on global early warning systems, as Kofi Annan emphasized before leaving office – a call reiterated earlier this month by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his response to the humanitarian needs created by the deadly Sumatra disaster in Indonesia.

The Bonn expert gathering is considered to be an instrumental step forward in setting the course for an effective global IEWP.