A UN report indicates that more than 60 million people have been impacted worldwide by El Nino, with its increasing intensity.
On the occasion of the ECOSOC Special Meeting on Impacts of the 2015/16 El Niño phenomenon: Reducing risks and capturing opportunities held on 6 May 2016, UN Headquarters, New York, the
President of the Economic and Social Council, Oh Joon, shared the following key messages and recommendations that emerged from the discussions during the meeting.
• The El Niño phenomenon––with its increasing intensity––has lasting consequences for development. We heard the many serious social, economic, and environmental impacts of the 2015/16 El Niño. Extreme weather is affecting people’s lives, productive capacity, health and livelihoods.
• More than 60 million around the world have been impacted. People whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, fisheries and livestock are particularly affected. Some countries have lost arable
farmable land. In Southern Africa alone, over 32 million people are affected by severe drought.
• In countries with ongoing high level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme climate events, in particular many of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the compounding effect of the current
El Niño phenomenon is adding further burden to their national and local capacity to manage risk and disasters. The impacts of the 2015/16 El Niño has also been particularly hard on the countries of Central America.
• During the special meeting on El Niño, we heard of the significant investments in preparedness, mitigation and risk reduction efforts undertaken by a number of countries. Strong risk-informed national planning efforts, budgeting for preparedness across sectors, coordinating local and national
efforts, and strengthening early warning systems were highlighted. This is leading to a diversion of resources that could have been invested on achieving the SDGs.
• We also heard from donors and UN entities of support they provided to highly affected countries.
There were also some innovations in releasing financing prior to events based on early warning information. The UN system should look to a coherent, coordinated and integrated approach in
support and assistance to countries. The recent agreement among FAO, IFAD, OCHA and WFP to develop a protocol outlining steps to be taken collectively, within defined timelines, will help ensure early and coordinated responses to future El Niño and La Niña events.