Energy and Meteorology Portal

Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is the substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries (UNDRR, 2015).

The DRR road map of WMO (WMO 2017) states that some of the expected benefits of skilled National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) and the coordinated support by WMO to its members are:

In the WMO Strategic Plan 2016-2019 (WMO, No. 1161, 2015), DRR is the first of the seven strategic priorities to enhance the in-house capabilities of member states, to reduce risks and potential impacts of hazards caused by weather, climate, water and related environmental elements (e.g. air quality and biomass burning) through producing better weather, climate, hydrological and related environmental information, predictions, warnings and services to support DRR and climate change adaptation (CCA) strategies.

An efficient and effective NMHS is a core component of DRR and CCA approaches, providing essential and high-quality meteorological, hydrological and climate (hazard) information. For example, when “building back better” after a disaster, the location and construction of infrastructure should take into account various climate change scenarios.

However, despite their importance for saving lives many nations including small islands still lack an early warning system – for instance 60% of people in Africa lack such a service. In 2022 WMO received a new mandate to spearhead new action to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years (WMO PR 2303022, 2022).

Understanding Risk
Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk
Investing in disaster reduction for resilience
Preparing for Risk

Weather and Climate Services are crucial to informing decision-making and management in the face of Climate Change.

Historical climate data and climate projections can help identify the type of hazard, expected return periods and event intensity at a given location. A good assessment can demonstrate where subsequent in-depth analyses should be focused.

Weather forecasts can closely follow hazards as they develop and provide real-time information that is crucial for disaster management.

The information stemming from W&CSs must be shared in a format that is useful, clear and easy to understand and apply from the point of view of a energy sector user, as they will have to make decisions to respond to the unfolding hazards or plan for future climatic changes.

W&CSs can provide information about:

  • Weather variability and climate risk, using a combination of terrain models, assets data (e.g. location, lifetime, installed capacity, building specifications) and climate-related information, including local and regional historical data and projections.
  • Forecasts of future supply and demand of energy. These forecasts can also help to increase system efficiency and reduce vulnerability.
  • Adaptation measures required in response of exposure and vulnerability assessments depending on the forecasted hazards
  • High-level cost-benefit analysis of key physical adaptation options (e.g. weather-proofing)
  • Protocols and processes for energy system managers to respond to climate emergencies.

In particular for Infrastructure, W&CSs can:

  • Help to identify the exposure of existing infrastructure to weather, water and climate-related hazards by informing high-level risk assessments.
  • Provide advice on selecting the appropriate standards, procedures and materials to build new, or upgrade existing, infrastructure in order to ensure that assets can withstand impacts due to climate variability and projected climate change hazards, over their lifetimes, also accounting for the uncertainties inherent in climate data.
  • Define an acceptable return period for climate hazards when selecting sites to build new energy assets.
  • Help to understand how the return periods of climate hazards at existing assets’ locations are being affected by climate change.
  • Tailor adaptive solutions, so they are specific to location and lifetime of energy assets.
  • Increase response flexibility of energy infrastructures by building them in a sustainable manner.

Accounting for future climate scenarios, energy systems need to develop a compromise between the current command-and-control approach to include system resilience that allows for a more flexible response to uncertain scenarios, where planners leverage new information and past experience to come up with novel solutions to unforeseen and unknown events. An understanding of the potential cascade of impacts triggered by extreme events, combined with information about forecasted extreme event return periods and intensities, would help develop more resilient solutions (Hoekstra et al., 2018, Alderson et al., 2020)