CREWS: Climate Risk & Early Warning Systems
From 2000 to 2019, a total of 7,348 major climate disasters were recorded. They caused 1.23 million casualties and affected 4.2 billion people. In poor and vulnerable countries, weather data to help anticipate these phenomena and warn people are often unreliable or totally lacking.
To better warn and inform about risks of dangerous weather and climate events, France launched the multi-donor initiative CREWS at COP21. Its aim is to protect lives, livelihoods and assets in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by significantly improving integrated multi-risk warning systems.
From 2000 to 2019, 7,348 major disasters were recorded, causing 1.23 million casualties and affecting 4.2 billion people, resulting in global economic losses of approximately $2.970 trillion.
This is a huge increase compared with disasters recorded in the 20 previous years.
Some 91% of these disasters were due to floods, storms, droughts, heatwaves and other extreme climate events.
The successive reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirm that the frequency and scale of these climate events are rising, increasing the threat to human lives and livelihoods, particularly in vulnerable countries. Economic losses due to global warming almost doubled across the periods 1980-1999 and 2000-2019.
With this in mind, at the third Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015, the United Nations committed to “substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030” and developed a framework for action, the Sendai Framework.
Countries that have succeeded in establishing early warning systems have seen their disaster-related deaths drop dramatically. However, capacities for implementing these types of systems vary greatly. The Least Developed Countries (LDC) and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have the most problems providing critical alerts for national and local authorities and populations.
Many vulnerable countries highlight the need to consolidate warning systems by enhancing their weather forecasting systems while improving their disaster plans and operations. In their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), which embody their commitments to reduce their national emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change, these countries defined an early warning system (EWS) as a priority.
CREWS implements national and regional projects with the assistance of three specialized agencies:
• The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is consolidating its global and regional capacity-building centres and supports the coordination and coherence of actions undertaken with the national initiatives.
• The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) ensures the coherence of policies and conformity with the United Nations plan of action and the targets of the Sendai Framework.
• The World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) supports the identification, design and implementation of support for large-scale national programmes, as well as the coordination and integration of these programmes with regional and global centres.
What are the partners’ commitments?
CREWS aims to leverage $100 million to respond to the financing shortfalls in existing bilateral and multilateral cooperation programmes. A trust fund managed by the World Bank supports the organizations and implementing institutions in their activities.
Who are the financial partners?
• France contributed €26 million between 2016 and 2021 to the trust fund.
• Switzerland joined the initiative in 2019, with a contribution of 9 million Swiss francs.
• Germany opted to support CREWS when it was launched, with an initial contribution of €3 million. It has announced that it will increase this support from 2020 onwards, with a significant contribution paid in instalments over three years. France and Germany are working with their G7 partners to ensure coherence between CREWS and the InsuResilience Global Partnership, notably with a view to improving access to insurance against climate risk in vulnerable countries.
• Luxembourg contributed €1 million in 2017, followed by a further €500,000 in 2019.
• Australia is paying a special contribution of AU$5 million in instalments to the CREWS initiative, as well as mustering 19 million Australian dollars for bilateral support, mainly in the Pacific region.
• Canada is contributing CA$10 million via the World Meteorological Organization in order to support the upgrade of early warning systems in the most vulnerable communities under the CREWS initiative.
• The Netherlands has been contributing instalments towards a total sum of €3 million to the CREWS trust fund since 2017.
• The United Kingdom joined the initiative at the end of 2019 and made a contribution of £2 million. France and the United Kingdom also work together in the context of the REAP (Risk-Informed Early Action Partnership), which was launched at the UNSG Climate Summit in September 2019 and is aimed at linking early action to early warnings.
• Finland contributed to the initiative for the first time in 2020, with a donation of €5 million.
• The European Commission is transforming its interest into action by looking into tangible means of contributing to the trust fund, in the framework of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement.
• Japan is a CREWS observer. It is involved in the development and upgrade of warning systems in Asia and the Pacific, including the use of satellites.
• Mexico, Norway and New Zealand are long-standing observers.
• The Green Climate Fund
With leverage from CREWS, the Green Climate Fund can step up efforts by supporting a number of projects and reinforcing CREWS action.
• USAID is considering field cooperation.
The CREWS 2020 Annual Report highlights the results achieved in the course of this year’s operations in more than fifty countries, through 14 national and regional projects.
Updated: October 2021