Rationale for the Conference

By resolution 44/236 of December 22nd, 1989, the United Nations General Assembly designated the 1990´s as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR). According to the 1994 "Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action" one of the key themes of the Decade is the realistic assessment of hazard, risk and vulnerability including early warning and response capabilities. ´

Accordingly, the United Nations General Assembly with its resolution A/RES/49/22B of January 23rd, 1995, requests the Scientific and Technical Committee (STC) of the Decade, the UN Secretary General, and governments, respectively, to

  • continue work on early-warning capabilities;
  • examine new scientific and experimental concepts and methodologies aiming at accurate and timely short-term forecasting of tropical cyclones, floods and similar disasters;
  • facilitate an internationally concerted framework for improvements in early warning capacities;
  • develop a concrete proposal for an effective international mechanism on early warning;
  • undertake regular reviews of early warning requirements and capabilities at national and community levels;
  • promote the transfer of technologies related to early warning to developing countries along with the corresponding training.
  • To achieve these goals, to consolidate the accomplishments of the IDNDR, to plan for the 21st century and to implement the related UN Resolution IDNDR 51/185 it has been decided by the STC for the IDNDR to hold, on the invitation of the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, an International Conference on "Early Warning Systems for the Reduction of Natural Disasters" (EWC98) in 1998 at Potsdam, Germany.

    The fifty-second session of the United Nations General Assembly received information about EWC '98 (or, the conference) in two reports of the United Nations Secretary-General, namely the reports on the "Status of implementation of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR)" (A/52/560) and on "Improved effectiveness of early-warning systems with regard to natural and similar disasters" (A/52/561). Under the agenda item on IDNDR, the General Assembly adopted resolution 52/200 on "International cooperation to reduce the impact of the El Niño phenomenon". The resolution calls explicitly on IDNDR to continue its efforts towards an internationally concerted approach to improvements of early-warning capacities, with particular reference also to El Niño.