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SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT – The United Nations on Monday unveiled a five-year plan to build a global early warning system for deadly and costly extreme weather events amplified by climate change.

António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, said that the relatively modest price of US$3.1 billion (SGD4.34 billion), or less than 50 cents per person, could cost thousands, if not millions, of lives. It’s a small price to pay for proven methods that can saveand COP27 climate summit held in Egypt.

“I called for everyone on the planet to be protected by an early warning system within five years, prioritizing helping the most vulnerable people first.

Half of the world’s countries do not have advanced early warning systems that can save lives, even though the climate is increasing extreme weather.

According to the United Nations, countries with inadequate infrastructure are on average eight times more likely to die from disasters than those with stronger measures.

Adequate early warning systems for floods, droughts, heatwaves, cyclones, or other disasters enable planning to minimize adverse impacts.

The number of people affected by disasters has nearly doubled over the past two decades, while the number of dead or missing has halved.

When Cyclone Bora hit what is now Bangladesh in 1970, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives, Bangladesh, founded the following year, invested in weather forecasting technology, shelters and a network of volunteers along the coast.

A similarly powerful Cyclone Amphan made landfall in the same region in 2020, but caused just 26 deaths.

“Early warnings save lives and bring enormous economic benefits,” World Meteorological Organization Director-General Peteri Taalas said in a statement.

“Just 24 hours advance notice of an imminent dangerous event can reduce subsequent damage by 30%.”

The Global Commission on Adaptation found that spending just $800 million on such systems in developing countries could avoid $3 billion to $16 billion in losses annually.

Starting with science-based observation networks and forecasting techniques, a complete early warning infrastructure also requires a way to rapidly disseminate information to the population, as well as national and community-based response capacities. AFPMore COP27: UN unveils global ‘early warning’ system for $4.34 billion disaster

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