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Creating Effective Warnings For All Conference

UCL's Warning Research Centre's first conference held 11-13 September 2023 focussed on designing, implementing, and maintaining effective warnings, for all.

Graphic with 'Creating Effective Warnings for All Conference' text in red, overlaid on a grey background

UCL WRC's first conference was held 11-13 September, 2023.

Bringing together global expertise to explore the role of warnings in managing vulnerabilities, hazards, risks, and disasters is essential to save countless lives every year, and support day-to-day living and vulnerability reduction. With an unprecedented focus on warnings following the announcement of the UN Secretary-General's five-year goal of 'Early Warnings For All’, delivering Target G of the Sendai Framework to “substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030”, and the Mid-Term Review of the Sendai Framework in May 2023, and the development of an International pandemic agreement (WHO CA+) following the global impact of COVID-19, global collaboration across all stakeholders is essential to ensure lasting success for warnings of the future. To date, there has already been significant work between many UN entities, the private sector, and financing institutions during COP27, and several agencies are leading the work on the four individual pillars as outlined in the the Early Warnings For All Executive Action Plan 2023 – 2027. Three key issues are critical to ensure effective warnings for all hazards, and human-made threats:

  1. The fundamental issues that link the four individual elements of warnings as outlined by the UN [(i) risk knowledge, (ii) monitoring and warning services, (iii) dissemination and communication and (iv) response capability] are often the points where warnings fail. It is critical to examine the ‘core element’ otherwise the four elements stand alone and do not achieve their goal.
  2. Contributions from all stakeholders are needed to make sure warnings result in actions. This means bringing together and working across the silos in international organizations, private sector, civil society organizations, local communities, academia, across a range of geographies and hazards (both natural and human-made).
  3. Valuable insights can be made by academia and the public to make sure warnings are people-centred and lessons have been identified, learnt, and implemented. Different approaches to public engagement can be integrated to make sure that warnings engage with the vulnerable as part of the ‘first’ mile, so the public are co-producers of knowledge and any warning system.

We are therefore delighted that Mami Mizutori (Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction) was our keynote speaker for the welcome session, launching the conference virtually on 11 September 2023.

About the Conference

People interact with cardboard theatre at WRC's Performing Warnings event.
Participants interact with cardboard theatre during UCL WRC's Performing Warnings event.

The 2023 conference aimed to provide an opportunity to break down silos between stakeholders, sectors, hazard types, geographies, and technologies used in warnings to generate better understanding and more effective warnings in the future, for all. Held at UCL, one the world’s leading research institutions, this conference offered research knowledge and skills from within academia, alongside lessons from the many stakeholders we work with, to help explore not just the creation and implementation of warnings, but how they can be effective, inclusive, sustainable and people-centred. Quality research, that goes beyond a single case study and/or hazard, and provides evidence-based solutions can provide valuable insights. In addition, we aimed to help bridge research, action, and policy to help support the Early Warnings For All initiative alongside UN Sendai Target G, and the International pandemic agreement (WHO CA+).

The 3-day international conference focused on warnings bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, representing many areas of the globe to review what makes warnings effective for all. This was note a traditional style conference but one that adopted:

  • Scenario events for delegates to partake in and learn in person the challenges and potential solutions for effective warnings.
  • Stakeholder mapping / mind mapping and analysis as part of 'problem based sessions.
  • Artists / performative events.
  • A range of discursive events including: Games, Campfires, Birds of a Feather, storytelling, and ‘Solution Rooms’.
  • Other, more standard conference-style events (e.g. focus groups, workshops).