United Nations
Responding to El Niño: Improving International Coordination for Improved Early Warning
by World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) (United Nations entity)
The El Niño of 2015-16 exerted severe impacts to more than 60 million people around the globe. The phenomena, with impacts mainly visible through extreme weather and climate events, led to heavy rains, flooding and mud slides, droughts, forest fires, and contributing to severe food insecurity especially in parts of Africa and South America. Marine ecosystems were also affected through extensive coral bleaching episodes. The El Niño led to large economic and social impacts, impeding global development targets. Consensus models for 2017 are predicting a 50-60% probability* (WMO Statement 28 April 2017) of return of El Niño conditions in the 2017 Northern Hemisphere summer. It is therefore prudent that governments take early precautions against the impact of this and future events through early warning of associated hazards and early action to save lives, protect critical infrastructures and mitigate impacts on their socio-economic sectors. There is urgent need for all relevant international organizations and Members to work together and coordinate activities and response, in a holistic and integrated way as one UN System.

A UN General Assembly resolution was approved in 2016 A/RES/70/110:

Recognizes the technical and scientific support of the WMO in producing regionally coordinated monthly and seasonal forecasts, in particular its establishment of a consensus mechanism for the development of updates on El Nio/La Nia conditions, which receives contributions from several climate centres, and also recognizes various initiatives undertaken by different countries to strengthen national and regional capacities;Encourages the WMO, in this regard, to continue to strengthen collaboration and the exchange of data and information with relevant institutions..

In December 2016, a Blueprint for Action published by the UN Secretary Generals Special Envoys on El Niño and Climate, recommended: anticipating crises through risk managementcost effectiveness of investments in resilience and early action has been repeatedly demonstrated.turning early warning into early action.

Responding to the UN Resolution and Blueprint for Action, in New York during the week of the UN Ocean Conference, WMO Secretary General, will elaborate WMO's actions to provide assistance to Members on El Niño and its extremes through WMO designated specialized centers. He will also provide an outline of the strategic steps that are relevant to further strengthen international coordination in this regard through establishment of an International Coordination Committee on El Niño impact for sustainable socio-economic development under the UN System. Such an international coordination mechanism will not only assist governments through provision of information on El Niño episodes and their impacts to take early precautions and actions including early warnings for extreme weather and climate events, but will also be valuable for planning, preparedness and emergency actions for UN humanitarian and DRR activities. Provision of authoritative, reliable and timely information for decision making is critical to protect lives, property and socio-economic sectors vulnerable to these natural disasters. Members will be invited to consider the proposed El Niño International Coordination Committee as appropriate for the Call for Action by the UN Ocean Conference and submission of the proposal as draft resolution in next UN General Assembly.
Progress reports
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
  • Economic benefits from sustainable fisheries
  • Economic benefits from sustainable tourism
  • Economic benefits from sustainable aquaculture/mariculture
  • Economic benefits from sustainable transport
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Research capacity development
  • Data access and sharing
  • Training and professional development
  • Scientific cooperation
  • Transfer marine technology
  • Actions that support SIDS and LDCs
Improved international coordination for provision of early warning information and services to countries affected by ENSO impacts
Improved early warning and services to countries impacted by ENSO events.
Improved response to ENSO impacts in affected countries
Improved longer-term resilience to ENSO impacts in affected countries
In-kind contribution
It is anticipated that WMO Members with direct interest in this commitment, will provide in-kind contributions.
Other, please specify
Once the details of the proposal are refined, it is anticipated that donor funding will be sought for specific activities to carry out the work.
Staff / Technical expertise
Pooling of staff and technical expertise to imrpove co-ordination, and strengthen early warning forecasts for ENSO events
Basic information
Time-frame: 2018 - 2022
Invited Partners including : CPPS, ECMWF, ISDR, SPC, UNESCO-IOC, UNOCHA, WMO, WMO Members including: Australia, China, Columbia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, Maldives, Peru, South Africa, USA and others
Ocean Basins
  • Indian Ocean
  • North Pacific
  • South Pacific
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Xu Tang, Director, Weather and Disaster Risk Reduction Service Department, xtang@wmo.int, +41 (0) 22 730 82 64
Geneva, Switzerland
Other SDGs
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