Prime Minister Attends High-Level Event on Early Warning Systems

September 21, 2023 11:16 pm

PHLIPSBURG, Sint Maarten— The Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs Silveria Jacobs, representing the Kingdom of the Netherlands, attended a high-level side event yesterday on the critical importance of early warning systems. The event was hosted the Permanent Mission of the Independent State of Samoa to the United Nations as a discussion on how to mitigate the impact of climate change-related disasters.

The gathering emphasized the significance of early warnings in saving lives and livelihoods in the face of extreme weather events and climate change. It was noted that early warning systems can significantly reduce damage, with an investment of just $800 million in developing countries potentially averting losses of $3-16 billion annually. Countries with substantial early warning coverage experience lower disaster mortality rates compared to those with limited coverage. However, it was highlighted that only half of the countries worldwide report having the capacity to alert their citizens about impending hazardous weather conditions. Small Island Developing States are faced with limited coverage, with only one-third reporting the existence of Multi-Hazard Early Warnings.

The event's agenda included opening remarks from notable figures in the field of climate change and disaster risk reduction, including Hon. Mr. Schuster, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment from Samoa, Prof. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Ms. Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and Mr. Jagan Chapagain, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies.

The high-level scene-setter featured Prime Minister H.E. Ms. Evelyn Wever-Croes of Aruba, representing the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Prime Minister H.E. Ms. Silveria Jacobs of Sint Maarten, Minister H.E. Ms. Khadeeja Naseem of the Republic of Maldives, Under-Secretary H.E. Mr. Pasi Hellmann of Finland, and Ms. Macia Wong, Deputy Assistant to the Administrator of USAID.

Discussions during the event covered topics such as innovative finance, systematic observations financing, and the role of non-state actors in empowering communities to respond effectively to early warnings.

“Sint Maarten faces severe vulnerabilities due to climate change and natural disasters, which have taken a toll on both its communities and economy. The island currently lacks a comprehensive early warning system, making it ill-prepared for impending threats. To address this critical issue, the government of St. Maarten has partnered with the European Union through the RESEMBID program to develop a comprehensive Early Warning System, focusing on capacity building and improved warning dissemination. Cross-border collaboration with French St. Martin is also crucial for a robust system. However, the establishment of such systems requires substantial resources that are often beyond the reach of SIDS.” Stated Prime Minister Jacobs during her address at this event.

The Prime Minister went on to say, “This is where the United Nations can play a pivotal role by providing the necessary financial and technological support, empowering vulnerable nations like Sint Maarten to build resilient and life-saving systems. Achieving these early warning systems is not only about disaster prevention but also about safeguarding lives, livelihoods, ecosystems, and contributing to global climate action in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. With UN assistance, Sint Maarten envisions a safer, more resilient future for its communities and environment.”