Stakeholders Discuss Science, Technology and Innovation for DRR
UN Photo/Logan Abassi
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The event, ‘Saving Lives in Real Time: How Science, Technology and Innovation are Advancing Disaster Risk Reduction Before, During and After,’ took place on the sidelines of the third Annual Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs on 6 June 2018.

The event was hosted by the Group of Friends of DRR, a group of 31 countries formed in 2012.

It outlined approaches through which STI can advance DRR, and challenges related to early warning systems.

6 June 2018: On the sidelines of the third Annual Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for the SDGs (STI Forum), delegates discussed approaches through which STI can advance disaster risk reduction (DRR), and challenges related to early warning systems.

The event titled, ‘Saving Lives in Real Time: How Science, Technology and Innovation are Advancing Disaster Risk Reduction Before, During and After,’ was hosted by the Group of Friends of DRR, a group of 31 countries formed in 2012. The event took place on 6 June 2018 at the UN Headquarters in New York, US.

Noting the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and their impacts on human and economic development, Paul Egerton, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) representative to the UN, highlighted the role of early warning systems to support early action and faster recovery. He also noted the importance of STI development in observations, informatics and computing power to enhance DRR.

John Harding, Head of Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative Secretariat, outlined results from a CREWS review of the early warning systems in the Caribbean following the 2017 hurricane season. He indicated that the Caribbean is “pretty strong” at tracking hurricane events in the region, thanks to 40 years of cooperation among countries. On challenges, he reported: gaps related to impact prediction; the lack of robustness of prediction and communication systems, and infrastructure; and the need for gender-sensitive approaches considering, inter alia, that women and men access information differently. He also announced that the findings of the review will be discussed at the meeting of the CREWS Steering Committee on 14 June 2018, and the related report will be presented at the VI Regional Platform for DRR in the Americas that will also take place in June 2018.

The lack of collaboration between government agencies affects governments’ capacity to act efficiently on early warnings.

Vladimir Tsirkunov, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), World Bank, noted that net losses due to extreme weather events are significantly higher than previously assessed due to the inclusion of parameters that were not factored in earlier assessments. He called for strengthening public institutions so they can use early warning systems and technology on the ground, and stressed the importance of legal tools to accompany these systems. He also remarked that the lack of collaboration between government agencies affects governments’ capacity to act efficiently on early warnings, adding that big disasters sometimes trigger collaboration, but collaboration should be considered more proactively.

Christina Farrell, Deputy Commissioner for External Affairs, NYC Emergency Management, focused on the approaches taken by New York City to handle emergencies and hazards. She said the City organizes presentations and hurricane preparedness campaigns, and uses weekly newsletters and social media to raise awareness about emergencies and preparedness. She also mentioned Notify NYC as the City’s official online source of information about emergency events, adding that it has about 734,000 subscribers, and is accompanied by a Notify NYC app where people can receive information based on their current location. She added that following City Council legislation, all messages will have to eventually be sent in real time in six different languages.

The STI Forum 2018 took place from 5-6 June 2018 at the UN Headquarters in New York, US, focusing on ‘Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies.’ [Event Webpage] [STI Forum 2018 Website] [IISD Coverage of STI Forum 2018] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]


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