Final programme (pdf)

Day 1 (Monday 22 May)

Detailed information to come.

Main session objectives

The session will look at the link between risk information and effective early warning systems, including the understanding of social vulnerabilities to tailor warnings for a diverse public.

The session will seek to answer the following questions:

  1. Are early warning systems sufficiently driven by risk assessment and information?
  2. What risk information is required in countries and at local level (to identify groups at risk and exposed development sectors)?
  3. How can exposed constituents, communities and sectors be effectively engaged in identifying hazards, analyzing vulnerability, assessing risk, and defining early warning needs and best dissemination channels?
  4. How can risk information improve early warnings and response capability?

Expected outcomes/results 

The outcomes of the session will contribute to:

  • The promotion of good practices which ensure that early warning systems are driven by risk assessment and information;
  • A revised Operational Multi-Hazard Early Warning Checklist;
  • Improved guidelines for measuring early warning effectiveness; and
  • To support countries in their efforts to measure Target G of the Sendai Framework.

Key messages/highlights

  1. Effective warning systems require an understanding of the populations and assets exposed to the threats.
  2. Practice shows that people and communities at risk need to be involved in the understanding of their exposure and the differential vulnerabilities of different types of groups; in the design of the early warning systems, including most effective modalities for communication and measures to respond.
  3. Effective warning systems rely on risk assessment and information that is used to transform early warning into early action in many sectors of development.
  4. New forms of risk assessment such as the shift from deterministic to probabilistic risk estimation, the emergence of climate change impact studies and the availability of improved risk information systems such as geo-spatial tools and risk maps pose new challenges related to their application by policy makers to guide early warning systems.  


  1. Urban Resilience and Integrated Early Warnings

Expo Center Room 1 from 13.15 to 14:45

  1. Earthquake early warnings and aftershock forecasting in the context of multi-hazard EWS

Expo Center Room 2 from 13:30 to 14:40

  1. Strengthening drought early warning systems

Expo Center Room 3 from 13:30 to 14:40

Main session objectives

The steady growth of disaster risks, increased human and assets exposure and lessons learned from past disasters, points to the need to further strengthen disaster preparedness and response including through multi-hazard early warning systems. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 has consequently defined one of its seven global targets to “Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030”.

Significant investment is required to ensure that people-centred, multisectoral and multi-hazard early warning systems are first developed and effectively linked with emergency communications mechanisms, social technologies and hazard-monitoring telecommunications systems. The development of these systems must be science-based, tailored through a participatory process and responsive to the needs of users, including social and cultural aspects, considering gender and age specific requirements. As much as possible, the resulting applications should deliver early warning information products using simple, low-cost equipment and facilities and should be delivered across as many dissemination and broadcasting channels as possible.

In this context, monitoring represents the process of collecting scientific and other related information about potential perils and warning describes the manner in which this information is assimilated into a process that results in a message that is disseminated to appropriate stakeholders and contains a call to action (including related standard operation procedures and automatized process). Warning information needs to consider all potential disasters across environmental, technological, biological and natural hazard domains. It should include, where possible, information beyond the characterizations of hazards to include likelihood and impact, in line with modern risk assessment methodologies. Hazard monitoring should include not only real-time data acquisition on hazard events as they develop or occur, but also the assimilation of fundamental studies of natural, environmental, technological and health issues that underlie the hazards themselves (e.g., studies of diseases as well as of active earthquake faults).  In between monitoring and warning, it is important to improve modelling capabilities in order to get faster and more reliable/accurate predictions of the ongoing hazardous natural phenomenon and complemented with the assessment of the possible hazard or event consequences. Furthermore, building multi-hazard systems requires also the fostering and use of open standards for geospatial or warning information (e.g., Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) compliant information, CAP, …) and the development of new multi-hazard indicators that are capable to communicate in a meaningful way the possibility of an upcoming disaster to the various end-users.

Warning information needs to be appropriate to the time scale of the potential disaster, which can range from only seconds for an earthquake or minutes for a tsunami, to hours or days for extreme weather, and months to years for drought or pandemic, and so on.

A few proposals are made below for consideration during the discussions to advance the application and further development of the Hazard monitoring, observations, modelling and forecasting and warning generation processes:

  1. Improved early warning forecasting and warning systems

Work to improve multi-hazard early warning systems and hazard monitoring that

  • cover the wide scope of the Sendai Framework, encompassing the risk of small and large-scale, frequent and infrequent, sudden and slow-onset disasters, caused by natural or environmental, technological and biological hazards
  • are backed by appropriate institutional architecture, capacity building, and infrastructure modernization necessary for the system to function, and appropriated policy frameworks that identify roles and responsibilities.
  1. Development of Guidelines and Standards
  • The development or fostering (if already available) of quality standards and operational guides on standard operating procedures that link early warning systems and hazard monitoring processes to the response agencies and to those vulnerable to a particular hazard and that encourages transboundary information sharing.
  • Ensure preparedness and contingency plans are consistently reviewed, updated and linked to warning systems.
  1. Improved accuracy and communication
  • Application of science and technology, including Remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) applications and the application of risk and impact models to improve the accuracy, timeliness and efficacy of warning information.
  • Application and integration of innovative Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) tools (e.g., incorporation of social media into EWS) so early warning messages are tailored to reach policy makers and the public in appropriate, easy to understand formats.
  • Development of multi-hazard indicators that can be used in the EWS to communicate effectively possible upcoming disasters

Expected outcomes/results

Recommendations for items on the checklist that result in:

  1. Improved early warning multi-hazards systems, including the strengthening of individual hazards and cluster hazards systems
  2. Development and fostering of guidelines and standards
  3. Improved accuracy and communication of the warnings products.

Key messages/highlights

Significant investment is required to ensure that people-centred, multisectoral and multi-hazard early warning systems are effectively linked with emergency communications mechanisms, social technologies and hazard-monitoring telecommunications systems.

  • Further work is required to develop and improve multi-hazard early warning and forecast systems and hazard monitoring that cover the wide scope of the Sendai Framework, encompassing the risk of small and large-scale, frequent and infrequent, sudden and slow-onset disasters, caused by natural or environmental, technological and biological hazards.
  • Further improvement of individual and cluster hazards systems is required in order to increase the potentiality of multi-hazard systems due to the potential synergies for their monitoring, forecasting and warning processes.

Overview and objectives

Once an early-warning has been issued, it is critical to reach the communities-at-risk. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play an important role in facilitating the implementation of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems, and to deliver alerting messages to those in affected areas. To rapidly disseminate alerts and warnings about hazards over different communication networks and platforms – including radio, television, mobile networks, satellite networks and the Internet – ICT infrastructure and access - including last mile connectivity - and use, are critical.

This session will highlight concrete solutions and discuss the importance of multi-hazard early warning and alerting platforms for better coordination among various stakeholders, in particular to disseminate disaster risk information that ranges from short and medium-term to seasonal. These include disaster risk management agencies, meteorological and geological services, government ministries, ICT regulators, NGOs, IGOs, and operators. It will discuss examples of how countries have built interoperable warning networks, and developed functional and effective communication strategies, platforms and standardized communication protocols, in particular the use of Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), an international standard for exchanging multi-hazard emergency alerts and public warnings over different types of networks.

The session will further discuss existing and innovative technologies, and remote monitoring tools to assess the availability of networks and readiness of communities-at-risk to be active players in assuring timely dissemination of alerts and warnings, including through social media.

This session will allow participating countries without established Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems to learn about the latest advances in ICT technologies and platforms, and good practice experiences on the communication and dissemination of warnings and alerts.

The session will address the following questions:

  • What steps must governments take to set up Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems and what is the role of national coordination? Who are the key stakeholders involved and what is the role of them, including the private sector and volunteer organizations?
  • How does the Common Alerting Protocol work and how can it be used to increase warning effectiveness and simplify the task of activating a warning for responsible organizations/people?
  • How important are multiple media to reach the most vulnerable communities?
  • What is the changing role of social media in reaching those at risk?
  • How can communities at risk be active members of their national early warning system?
  • How do agencies, institutions and services consider community needs in communicating warnings? What are the most appropriate tools and how to make sure communities can act on it?
  • Is there an international prevention and recovery strategy to deal with a multi-threat scenario that damages the communications infrastructure?

Expected outcomes/results:

  • Improved coordination between the different stakeholders involved in delivering the message to the communities at risk, including disaster risk management agencies, meteorological and geological services, government ministries, ICT regulators, NGOs, IGOs, and operators
  • Better use of new technologies and communication channels and networks, including social media to disseminate and deliver alerting messages
  • Enhanced communication strategies and interoperable warning networks
  • More public/private partnerships to ensure that communication infrastructure and services are readily available and used to inform the communities at risk

Key messages/highlights:

  • An actionable early warning provides a timely message that reaches, is understood and is acted upon by the population at risk
  • Proper assessment of the audience and promote a continuous two-way dialogue between author and recipient
  • Insist on technology that is appropriate (high cost-efficiency, robust, resilient, user friendly, easy to maintain)
  • A “response capable” community know, have practiced and have the means to engage in appropriate preparedness and response actions – Communication is one of its means


Day 2 (Tuesday 23 May)

Whether it be widespread famine from drought or displacement caused by a typhoon, a well-functioning early warning system can advise the population on the likelihood of a threat and how to reduce its potential impacts. Despite of progress in hazard monitoring, forecasting and warning, the fear of “acting in vain” remains to be the cause of repeated failure to transform early warning into early action. In strengthening response capabilities, the overall objective is to improve the ability of communities and organizations to act quickly before a disaster strikes. The more we act upon the warnings on the longest timescales, by identifying communities at risk, investing in disaster risk reduction, and enhancing preparedness to respond, the more lives and livelihoods can be salvaged – even at the shortest timeframes.

This session will discuss effective ways to adapt early warning systems and disaster response mechanisms to changing and imminent risks based from the science, policy and practice perspectives. This session will seek to address the challenges and opportunities to develop robust no-regret investments that contribute to efficient response and overall disaster risk reduction.

The session will address the following questions:

  • How can decision-making be improved to enable early action?
  • What kinds of laws, institutions and procedures need to be in place to ensure timely response?
  • What are examples of current innovations being used to contribute to more anticipatory disaster preparedness and response systems?
  • How can we continuously link early action to disaster risk reduction?

Through a panel discussion and a facilitated game, both speakers and participants will explore the question on how to enable early action based on early warning.

Expected outcomes/results

Key recommendations on enabling early action based on early warning

Key messages

  • Early decision-making enables early action
  • A response capable community know, have practiced and have the means to engage in appropriate preparedness and response actions
  • We must routinely act before a disaster or health emergency, or in anticipation of a future disaster risk through making full use of different forms of information on all timescales
  • Strive for robust, no-regret response options


Transboundary hydrometeorological phenomena like droughts, tropical cyclones and storms, and geophysical hazards like tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions, define a particular subset of threats where intergovernmental cooperation for early warning services is crucial. Technological and biological hazards of a transboundary nature do also need strong and sustained international cooperation. 

For some of those hazard phenomena, there is a need to strengthen appropriate cooperation mechanisms for more effective multi-hazard (MH) early warning systems (EWSs) through facilitating open data access, redundant tele-communication systems and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to save lives and reduce disaster loss. Some examples of those are the Tropical Cyclone Programme and the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System. Several of these Early Warning Systems are further streamlined and supported by regional cooperation bodies. 

In most cases, shared vulnerabilities emanate from transboundary nature of disaster risks, such as seismically active fault lines that cross many national frontiers, common ocean basins with frequent tropical cyclones and tsunamis, river basins with high flood potential, and agro-ecological arid and semi-arid drought prone regions.  Addressing the transboundary nature of disaster risks requires strengthening regional cooperation mechanisms for building resilience to disasters. 

For least developed early warning systems, such as those for fastest onset hazards like earthquakes, transboundary cooperation can significantly help in pushing forward their development and implementation through knowledge exchange and collaborative capacity building. 

This session will focus on sharing best practices and experiences from global and regional bodies and institutions dealing with early warning systems, from the local, national and regional perspective. 

Expected outcomes

Recommendations for items on the checklist that result in: 

  1. Innovative ideas for regional cooperation and partnerships for multi-hazard EWSs
  2. Sharing of best practices and policies for open data access for saving lives and reducing livelihood affected and economic loss 
  3. Suggestions for a reinforced link among transboundary EWSs and local preparedness and response.

4. Climate Services for disaster risk reduction and reaching the last mile – Experiences from the GFCS Adaptation Programme in Africa

Sunrise Room 9 from 13.15 to 14:45

5. Multiple hazards – multiple scales: Best practices, challenges and next steps towards implementing multi-hazard early warning systems

Sunrise Room 10 from 13:15 to 14:15

6. Mexican Multi-Hazard Monitoring (application software)

Sunrise Room 11 from 13:45 to 14:45

Main objectives

Countries with the lowest early warning capabilities, such as SIDS and LDCs, are often the most vulnerable to weather and climate extremes. Countries, institutions and communities need access to timely and reliable risk information across timescales, as well as the capacity to use this information to inform rapid and effective response. This session will demonstrate how strengthening impact-based early warning systems, when recognized as a public good, is cost-efficient and improves societal welfare, with economic assessments indicating investment returns of 300 percent and more. However, sustainable resourcing of such early warning systems and related national and local institutions is needed.

The session will explore effective assistance models and principles, with a focus on modernizing existing systems driven by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and National Disaster Management Authorities (NDMAs). Building on the understanding that early warning requires a service delivery mindset, discussion will focus on investment approaches that concurrently and holistically support institutional strengthening, modernization of observation and communication infrastructure and methods, and enhancement of last mile connectivity, stakeholder engagement and user capacity. This type of overhaul requires sound multi-actor business models, planning for financial sustainability, and leveraging of regional and global opportunities for support.

Expected outcomes/results

  • Recognition of cost-effectiveness of a multi-sectoral impact-based approach to multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWSs), underpinned by effective collaboration among government agencies and other key stakeholders and an outline of a/some mechanism/s to measure this cost effectiveness.
  • Enhanced common understanding of holistic investment approaches and financing opportunities for strengthening MHEWS.
  • New and/or scaled-up commitments by key international financiers and development actors to deliver and sustain MHEWS investments in developing countries.

Key messages/highlights

  • MHEWS are critical for building disaster and climate resilience.
  • MHEWS not only save lives and property, they also make economic sense, delivering a broad range of societal benefits far beyond their costs.
  • Modernization of MHEWS requires investments that concurrently and holistically tackle institutional, technical and service delivery challenges.
  • Without integration in a properly mandated, resourced and disciplined national risk management system, MHEWS cannot deliver their potential benefits.
  • International and domestic partnerships are critical for successful MHEWS modernization, for example as being pursued by CREWS.

Detailed information to come.