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Early warnings for all initiative


When disaster strikes, just a little bit of extra time can prepare people to act or evacuate. This is how alerts save lives and
will continue to do so amid the onset of climate change and a rising incidence of extreme weather events and natural hazards. Early warning systems are a proven and effective climate adaptation measure that are estimated to provide a tenfold return on investment.

United Nations Early Warnings for All Initiative​

Half of humanity is in the danger zone," observed United Nations Secretary General António Guterres at the 2022 UN Climate Conference, COP-27. “Vulnerable communities in ​climate hotspots are being blindsided by cascading climate disasters without any means of prior alert". He called for all stakeholders to work together in the UN's newly launched Early Warnings for All (EW4A) Initiative​, which stipulates that every person in the world should be protected by an early warning system by 2027. 

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is leading the “Warning Dissemination and Communication​" pillar of the EW4A initiative (see Figure below), with support from IFRC, REAP, UNDP and WMO, to look at last-mile connectivity and to ensure that warnings reach the people at risk in time to take action. 
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to disseminating warnings and we need to address the diversity of communities at risk. ITU therefore promotes a multi-channel approach that sends alerts over different communication channels: radio, television, social media, sirens, mobile phones, satellite etc.. ITU endorses an inclusive, people-centered approach that uses existing community-based infrastructures and locally-led feedback mechanisms to ensure messages are understandable and actionable. 


Growth in mobile networks and services provides new opportunities for early warning

Today, digital growth presents new opportunities to reach billions of people faster and more effectively, whether before, during, or after disasters. According to ITU's Facts and Figures 2022​, ninety-five per cent of the world's population has access to mobile broadband networks and close to 75 per cent of the population owns a mobile phone. This makes mobile networks an incredibly powerful communication channel to alert populations about an imminent hazard. The Action Plan for this initiative, launched during COP 27, calls for the promotion and implementation of geo-located mobile-based early warning services using cell broadcast and/or location-based SMS, as a critical element for 'warning dissemination and communication'.​​

Cell-broadcast or location-based SMS (short message service) warnings can be targeted to reach only people located in an at-risk area. These are proven technologies already used in several countries, and their alerts are adaptable to specific requirements, such as a user's language. 

A law adopted by the European Union in 2018 requires all EU countries to set up systems to send alerts via mobile networks by 2022. This regulatory approach has proven an effective way to accelerate the uptake of public warning systems across Europe. ITU encourages countries to consider a regulatory approach to make the use of mobile networks mandatory for public warnings.

Clear regulatory frameworks, combined with financial support via multilateral development organizations, can maximize the climate adaptation impact of mobile networks, at relatively low cost. ITU works closely with the GSMA to strengthen cooperation with Mobile Network​ Operators, and identify best practices for effective early warning systems.​

Under the EW4All initiative, the months ahead will see stepped up coordinated action, initially in 30 particularly at-risk countries identified, including Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries. Additional countries are expected to be added as this vital work with partners gathers pace, scale and resourcing.

Asia and Pacific:
Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Lao (People’s Democratic Republic), Cambodia, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands,  Fiji, Tonga

Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Chad, Comoros, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, South Sudan, Uganda

Latin America and Caribbean:
Guyana, Haiti, Barbados, Antigua Barbuda, Guatemala, Ecuador

Central Asia: