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Anticipating Climate Hazards 2017



How can vulnerable communities best prepare for climate-related hazards, and what new tools can be used to incentivize early action?

Submit Proposals:
Rules: All entrants must agree to the Contest rules and Terms of Use
Deadline:Friday, Feb 10, 2017 at 18:00:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Judging Criteria & Prizes:See below.




Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and severity of climate-related hazards, such as storms and extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, landslides, sea-level rise, heat waves and storm surges. [1] To address this, there have been significant developments in early warning systems that alert communities of extreme weather events before they happen, but an early warning is inadequate without early action.  A community’s capacity to adequately anticipate and prepare for hazards is fundamental to strengthening their resilience. Often people or policy makers are unable to act in advance of a hazard even if warnings are received, due to lack of funding, lack of will and/or technical capacity.

The most vulnerable nations and people need support in strengthening their ability to prepare for disasters before they happen.  We are calling for a wide range of innovative and practical solutions – on the local, national and international levels – that can help strengthen early action in communities around the world.

About A2R
Anticipate, Absorb, Reshape (A2R) – From Risk to Resilience, is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative led by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, which seeks to accelerate action on the ground to enhance climate resilience of the most vulnerable countries and people by 2020.  [2] Read more about A2R here:

A2R will enhance:
·      Anticipate – The capacity to better anticipate and act on climate hazards and stresses through early warning and early action systems.
·      Absorb – The capacity to absorb shocks by increasing access to insurance and risk transfer pools (insurance) and social protection risk reduction practices and technologies.
·      Reshape – The capacity to reshape development pathways by transforming economies to reduce risks and root causes of vulnerabilities and support the sound management of physical infrastructure and ecosystems to foster climate resilience.

The 14 UN entities participating in the A2R initiative are FAO, UNEP, UNDP, UNFCCC, UN-Habitat, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNOPS, UNISDR, WFP, OCHA, WHO, and WMO.  This is the first of a series of intended contests for A2R.


Key Issues

Climate change risks are increasing.

Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and severity of climate-related hazards, such as storms and extreme precipitation, flooding, sea-level rise, and heat waves and an increase in the spread of vector borne diseases.

Nearly 634 million people – one tenth of the global population – live in at-risk coastal areas, just a few meters above existing sea levels. Three quarters are located in Asian flood-prone densely-populated river deltas or in low-lying small island states.  The world’s 136 largest cities could be facing annual flood losses of US $1 trillion by 2050. Globally, from 2001 - 2010, the economic loss related to hydro/meteorological events was US $660 billion, a 54% increase compared to 1991 - 2000. [3]

Most at risk are the safety and the economic development of communities in Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries, African countries, and other countries that have significant populations who are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Early Warning-Early Action Systems

The most effective approach to protect communities from the threat of extreme climate events is to prepare them to act before a disaster.  Early warning-early action systems offer a two-pronged approach: 

   (1) Early warning:  provide communities with timely and actionable warnings, and
   (2) Early action: equip them with the knowledge, procedures and resources they need so they are prepared to act on these warnings when they happen.

Advances in science and technology – such as global computer models, satellite imagery, and cheaper equipment for local meteorological offices – have dramatically increased the ability to predict extreme weather events and provide early warnings to the most vulnerable communities.

However, early warnings alone are not enough.  Cyclone Nargis, Hurricane Katrina, and the food crisis in Niger are examples of situations when information about threats was insufficient to avert a disaster.

The most vulnerable nations and people need support in strengthening their ability to prepare for disasters before they happen.  This means working closely with local communities to assess the root causes of the risks they face, sharing new technologies and best practices from around the world, providing communities with access to knowledge networks, reducing barriers to implementation, and releasing funding to accelerate this effort.


Judging Criteria

We are calling for innovative, practical solutions to help strengthen vulnerable communities’ ability to take effective action to minimize the impact of climate-induced disasters and adapt sustainably to climate change.

Judges will be asked to evaluate proposals on the following criteria: feasibility, novelty, impact, and presentation quality, and will subsequently deliberate to select awardee(s).

This contest seeks all of the following:

·      Individual solutions that could be implemented in communities worldwide to help them take action after warning information is received (access to new forms of saving or funding, equipment to be used to protect resources, infrastructure that could be set up in advance of a flood or drought, resource maps);
·      Local, national and international policies and financing mechanisms that could accelerate early action;
·      Planning processes, programs, tools or resources to guide communities; and/or
·      Public awareness campaigns and community engagement initiatives.

The Judges will favor proposals that:

·       Are applicable to countries that have significant populations with high climate risk exposure, such as Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries, and African countries;
·       Detail what would be needed to implement this solution;
·       Include how funding could be acquired.

Proposals can be at any stage of development: 

·       Well thought-out ideas that require additional research, design or planning;
·       Comprehensive strategies that are ready for prototyping or implementation;
·       Initiatives that have already achieved success and are ready to be scaled;
·       Best practices that need refinement or support in order to scale.

For the contest schedule and phases, please see the blue schedule bar on the contest homepage.


Judges’ Choice Winner Prize:  One expenses-paid trip to present before A2R Leadership Group & wide recognition by MIT Climate CoLab

The Judges' Choice Winner will be selected by the judging panel.  The Judges' Choice Winner can select one member of their team to receive an expenses-paid trip (including flight, accommodation, and meals) to present their winning proposal to the A2R Leadership Group.  The A2R Leadership Group is made up of representatives of some of the key global actors in building climate resilience – including national governments, UN agencies, the private sector and civil society — who will be guiding this important global initiative and its future direction.  Meeting with them will open doors to engaging with members of A2R’s global partnership network, who will be announced after the Leadership Group holds its inaugural meeting in New York in September.  The Judges' Choice Winner will also receive wide recognition and visibility by MIT Climate CoLab.

Popular Choice Winner Prize:  Wide recognition by MIT Climate CoLab

The Popular Choice Winner will be awarded for receiving the most valid votes during the public voting period, and will receive wide recognition and visibility by MIT Climate CoLab.

Please note that more than one Judges' Choice Winner may be awarded, and more than one Popular Choice winner may be awarded in the case of a tie. Additional awards and prizes may be given by either the Judges or MIT Climate CoLab in order to recognize other top proposals.  See contest rules for details.


Resources for Proposal Authors

Contest image credit: International Disaster Volunteers. "Vulnerable Houses and Sandbags." March 24, 2010. Online Image. Flickr, Creative Commons, with Attribution.


[1] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report Summary for Policy-Makers IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp.

[2] The UN Secretary General’s Climate Resilience Initiative. “A2R Initiative.”  November 30, 2015.

[3] International Institute for Environment and Development. “Climate change: study maps those at greatest risk from cyclones and rising seas.”   March 28, 2007.

Additional Resources:

·      The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' handbook, Early Action > Early Warning,
·      UN Environment Programme’s CLIM-WARM: a global, multi-hazard, climate-related early warning system,  
·      UNISDR reports and data
·      Global Assessment Reports
 ·     Disaster Lost database
·      Hyogo Framework reports
·      WMO data on early warning
·      FAO data on early warning
·      FAO and WFP data on social protection mechanisms
·      Africa Risk Capacity
·      Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility
·      See also this book -