By Clare Naden
There is no doubt that we are now living in a world where surprise is the new normal. Increasing populations, resource exploitation, and the resulting climate change effects are putting greater pressure on our ecosystems. As a result, floods, fires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters are only set to increase, leading to greater loss of life, disruption, and uncertainty. Local and national governments need to be better prepared to minimize losses should disaster strike. An effective early warning system is one key tool, and ISO has just developed an international standard to help.
ISO 22328-1, “Security and resilience—Emergency management—Part 1: General guidelines for the implementation of a community-based disaster early warning system” outlines processes that can help those in hazard-prone areas to get out in time.
According to Åsa Kyrk Gere, chair of the ISO committee that developed the standard, community-based early warning systems (EWS) are essential for virtually every locality, as rapid urbanization, climate change, declining ecosystems, and other factors are increasing the risk of disasters everywhere.
“Having a well thought-out and prepared EWS empowers communities to be more aware and react more quickly, thus literally saving lives,” she says. “It also helps to reduce the impact of such disasters, such as that to property, the economy and the environment.”
ISO 22328-1 is the first in the series of standards, with future parts giving guidance for specific types of disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and flooding, Gere adds.
Implementing an EWS such as that described in ISO 22328 is also consistent with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 that works together with other 2030 Agenda agreements, such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.
The framework advocates for the reduction of disaster risk and recognizes that the state has the primary role to play in this, but it should also be shared with other stakeholders such as local governments and the private sector.
About the author
Clare Naden is news and communications specialist at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).