Front from left to right: Meiang Chin, UNEP-5 Project Manager, Office of Project Management, Bureau of Budget and Planning Maria Ngemaes, Meteorologist in Charge, National Weather Service Office Kiku Mochimaru, Staff Meteorologist, National Weather Service Office Back from left to right: Waymine Towai, Coordinator, National Emergency Management Office Charles Obichang, Minister, Ministry of Public Infrastructure and Industries Casmir E. Remengesau, Director, Bureau of Budget and Planning

With the ever-increasing intensity and frequency of climate-induced natural hazards in Palau, an effective early warning system (EWS) is urgently needed to ensure protection of lives, livelihood, property and infrastructure.  To improve Palau’s early warning system, a three-day workshop was held on March 22-24, 2023 by the National Emergency Committee (NEC) members.  The ultimate objective of the workshop was to outline an EWS coordination mechanism, based on an updated National Hazard Profile in the National Disaster Management Framework and the associated standard operating procedures of key EWS agencies.

Within the NEC, the key EWS agencies for weather-related hazards are the National Weather Service Office (NWSO) and National Emergency Management Office (NEMO).  The NWSO serves as the official provider of climate and weather hazards and risk information, while NEMO uses this information to mobilize the NEC and the community.  Together they serve a critical role in guiding the NEC’s decisions and actions to prevent and mitigate climate- and weather-related risks to communities.   

Participants recapped the national top climate hazards, discussed EWS challenges, and the respective roles and responsibilities of the lead disaster management team members.  Breakout groups considered categories of climate hazards, affected areas and populations, as well as estimated time, severity, and duration of the impact.  The sessions culminated in identified and prioritized challenges and their associated needed actions, as well as an early warning communication roadmap within the NEC.

The workshop was conducted as part of a Green Climate Fund (GCF) regional initiative, led by UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP), Enhancing Climate Information and Knowledge Service for Resilience in the 5 Island Countries of the Pacific, also known as UNEP-5.  The implementation of UNEP-5 in Palau is being led by the NWSO, with guidance and support by a nine-member National Coordination Committee, Chaired by Casmir Remengesau, Director of the Bureau of Budget and Planning, Ministry of Finance.  “We are very satisfied with the results of the workshop, especially having identified an initial structural set-up and respective roles of key agencies in the anticipated coordination mechanism.”  The dates of the EWS workshop were selected to honor the World Meteorological Day, which takes place every year on March 23rd and commemorates the coming into force of the Convention establishing the World Meteorological Organization on March 23, 1950.

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