Improving the Governance Context and Framework Conditions of Natural Hazard Early Warning Systems

Denis Stanley Chang Seng, United Nations University Institute for


Early Warning Systems (EWSs) are a major element of disaster reduction. They provide resilience to natural hazards, protect economic assets and development gains. Until now, most EWS have focused mainly on hazard detection and the immediate warning and evacuation processes with an effort of saving lives in the context of an extreme event. However, the incidence of global societal calamities and losses continue to grow. Risks, crises and disasters are becoming more and more intricate, complex and multi-faceted. Some of the key challenges of EWSs include lack of an end to end and people-centred approach, and major weakness in terms of governance and institutional arrangements as the cross-cutting issues of EWSs. In this context, the governance aspect and framework conditions of EWSs need to be revisited. The paper reviews and analyses various concepts and frameworks related to EWSs in order to present ideas about how to systematise characteristics and dimensions of governance for an improved conceptual governance framework for EWSs. In this regard, the framework conditions and the governance context of EWSs are outlined in order to improve EWSs.
The review process shows that EWSs framework to this point has evolved from the traditional three phase linear chain typology to a more complex and integrated cyclic model framework incorporating risk knowledge and appropriate response elements. Additional aspects include participation, feedbacks from different actors and the community and the required driving incentive structures for sustainability. A number of governance related weaknesses are identified in the existing concepts and frameworks. In addition, EWS do not systematically or methodologically take into account hazard-social ecological conditions. The governance aspects and framework conditions proposed in this paper include the four core EWS elements (risk knowledge, monitoring & warning, dissemination & communication, and response). Communication should be a central element operating at all times, levels and scales of the process. Additional aspects include: (1) the social-ecological system governance perspective (2) the governance perspectives directly related with the EWS in terms of architectures, the actors and the community, and (3) the broader systems of governance (i.e. political, economic, social and technological); to emphasis the driving incentive structures required for implementing and supporting an effective and sustainable EWS.


Frameworks for Early Warning System Governance; Institutions; Resilience; Disaster Risk Preparedness

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