World Meteorological Day takes place every year on 23 March. It showcases the essential contribution of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to the safety and wellbeing of society and is celebrated with activities around the world. The themes chosen for World Meteorological Day 2022, “Early Warning and Early Action“, reflect topical weather, climate or water-related issues.
Weather, climate and water extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in many parts of the world as a result of climate change. More of us are exposed than ever before to multiple related hazards, which are themselves evolving as a result of population growth, urbanization and environmental degradation.
Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change impacts under all climate scenarios above 1.5 degrees Celsius. Despite having contributed the least to global warming and having the lowest emissions, Africa faces exponential collateral damage, posing systemic risks to its economies, infrastructure investments, water and food systems, public health, agriculture, and livelihoods, threatening to undo its modest development gains and slip into higher levels of extreme poverty.
Sub-Saharan Africa has 95% of rain-fed agriculture globally. A large share of agriculture in GDP and employment adds to vulnerability, as do other weather-sensitive activities, such as herding and fishing, leading to income losses and increased food insecurity.
Seven of the 10 countries that are most vulnerable to climate change are in Africa. In 2015, four African countries ranked among the 10 countries most affected: Mozambique (1st), Malawi (3rd), Ghana and Madagascar (joint 8th position).
Climate change represents a major threat to Africa achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report 2018 highlighted the grave consequences of a temperature increase above 1.5°C, especially for Africa.
From 2008 to 2011, drought caused economic losses equivalent to 3.9 percent of Djibouti’s GDP per annum
UNEP-commissioned research estimates that the cost of adapting to climate change across Africa could reach $50 billion a year by 2050, if the global temperature increase is kept within 2°C above preindustrial levels.
Under the Paris Agreement reached at COP21, all countries agreed to take collective action on climate change to keep global temperature increases to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. African countries have outlined bold aspirations to build climate resilient and low-carbon economies in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement.
Having signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, nearly all African countries have committed to enhancing climate action through reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience. For the continent, adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change is urgent.
Africa will need investments of over $3 trillion in mitigation and adaptation by 2030 in order to implement its NDCs.
However, many of their commitments are conditional upon receiving adequate financial, technical and capacity building support
Nevertheless, climate change also provides opportunities for Africa to harness its huge resource potential to achieve the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. Addressing climate change in Africa will create significant market opportunities on the continent, especially for the private sector and institutional investors
Forecasts of what the weather will be are no longer enough. Impact-based forecasts that inform the public of what the weather will do are vital to save lives and livelihoods. Yet one in three people are still not adequately covered by early warning systems.
Greater coordination between national meteorological and hydrological services, disaster management authorities and development agencies is fundamental to better prevention, preparedness and response.
COVID-19 has complicated the challenges facing society and weakened coping mechanisms. The pandemic has also highlighted that, in our inter-connected world, we need to embrace a truly multi-hazard, cross-border approach to make progress towards global goals on climate action, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.
Being prepared and able to act at the right time, in the right place, can save many lives and protect the livelihoods of communities everywhere, both now and in the future.
World Meteorological Day 23 March 2022 therefore has the theme Early Warning and Early Action, and spotlights the vital importance of Hydrometeorological and Climate Information for Disaster Risk Reduction.