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Hemispheric Consultation on Early Warning (HCEW)
Financed by:Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, ISDR, ACS
Having examined and evaluated the survey "Evaluation of Strengths, Weaknesses and Projects for Disaster Management in ACS Countries", the 2nd Meeting of the Technical Group of the Special Committee on Natural Disasters (Port of Spain, October 2000) identified Early Warning Systems (EWS) for Floods and Swells as a priority area for regional co-operation in the ACS. The 1st Meeting of the Special Committee on Natural Disasters was also convened in October 2000, during which a draft of the proposal for the "Establishment of National Early Warning Systems and national systems for detecting vulnerability risks in seismic zones" was presented for inclusion in the Committee's Work Programme. In 2001, Mexico coordinated the collection of information from each ACS Member Country regarding National Early Warning Systems.
Following this, the Plan of Action of Margarita adopted by the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and/or Government in December 2001 included the mandate to continue the implementation of the project: "Strengthening of the Response Capabilities of National Disaster Relief Systems", as outlined in the Committee's Work Programme.
Based on Mexico's effort to compile information, the 4th Meeting of the Committee on Natural Disasters (Guatemala City, March 2002) agreed to hold a regional Seminar-Workshop geared toward developing a regional Early Warning System for the phenomenon most affecting the Greater Caribbean, based on the experience of Member Countries that have successfully employed such systems. Consequently, the proposal was entitled "Regional ACS Workshop on Early Warning Systems (EWS)".
In September 2002, the German Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago officially notified the Secretariat that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, through its Humanitarian Aid Force, was willing to support the initiative via the German Technical Co-operation Agency (GTZ).
The ACS proposal was so well received that the Regional Consultation was promoted to "Hemispheric Consultation" and was being planned by a Steering Committee comprising representatives from: the ACS, ISDR-UN, GTZ, CDERA, CEPREDENAC, CONRED and the UNDP.
This is how the "Hemispheric Consultation on Early Warning" came to be held in Antigua, Guatemala, on June 3-5, 2003, as part of the preparations for the "Second International Conference on Early Warning Systems" (EWC II), held in Bonn, Germany on October 16-18, 2003.
PRESENTATION OF THE EVENT
The "Hemispheric Consultation on Early Warning" was planned by a Steering Committee comprising representatives from: the ACS, ISDR-UN, GTZ, CDERA, CEPREDENAC, CONRED and the UNDP, and was held in Antigua, Guatemala on June 3-5, 2003.
The Consultation was aimed at identifying existing Early Warning Systems (EWS), the organisations and individuals responsible, as well as other relevant aspects of EWS, such as financial issues, investment costs and their sustainability.
The Consultation also identified critical points and future needs such as information, data, knowledge, expertise and resources.
The opportunity was also presented for greater interaction and dialogue among stakeholders at various levels and also among the different sectors; thus effectively strengthening coordination and co-operation among the groups involved in early warning processes.
The Consultation focused on a wide range of actors involved in the early warning chain, allowing interaction between early warning experts and decision makers, politicians, public authorities, non-governmental organisations, community leaders, educators and the media. It sought to capture the perspective on these phenomena in developing and developed countries alike.
The expected results included identifying Early Warning Blueprints for Latin America and the Caribbean, including best practices, critical points and limitations on applications and effectiveness, in addition to a list of key institutions and individuals experienced in the implementation and functioning of various types of early warning systems for different threats.
The Consultation also hoped to develop strategies for disseminating knowledge on early warning. These include technological aspects such as the Internet, training and other options.
Finally, the "Declaration of Antigua" was drafted, outlining the main recommendations and conclusions of the Consultation, which were presented during the course of the EWC II (Bonn, October 2003), as part of the hemispheric activities associated with said international conference.
Director of Disaster Risk Reduction
Director Arturo López-Portillo Contreras