Preparing for the worst

There are two parts to every story.

This blog from Robert Varley, former Vice-President of the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation, is part of All We Can’s ‘Rethinking Disasters’ micro-blog series.

Part 1

Images of desperate islanders after Dorian swept over the Bahamas in September reminded us yet again how devastating hurricanes can be. But imagine how much worse it might have been without accurate forecasts, enabling many to evacuate before the storm arrived.

When the Bhola Cyclone hit East Pakistan in 1970 – before the days of supercomputers and sophisticated weather satellites – at least 500,000 people lost their lives. So as our weather becomes more extreme, spare a thought for the meteorologists all over the world whose diligent work helps communities prepare, and so reduce the impact of even the most dangerous weather.

Part 2

In 2015 187 Countries ratified the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, committing to substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030. The Green Climate Fund, the World Bank and the UNDP have invested more than US$ 2 billion in early warning systems and climate services, enabling governments and citizens to build resilience to the changing climate, and to keep safe when bad weather strikes. When Dorian hit the Bahamas in September, at least the islanders knew it was coming.

Robert Varley is a strategic advisor to international leaders in weather and climate science and services, currently working with the UN World Meteorological Organisation and the national weather services of Australia, Switzerland and Hong Kong. As a professional meteorologist, Rob served as Chief Executive of the Met Office, 2014-18, and First Vice-president of the UN World Meteorological Organisation. Rob is part of the Governance Committee.

The opposite effect

How disasters create space for grace and generosity.

Find out more >>

Goodness in disaster

Can there be good in a disaster?


Lessons from disasters

Can we learn how to create strong, resilient communities and save lives?


'Disasters are not once and for all events'

‘I realised, because it was right in front of my eyes, that disasters are not once and for all events.’

Learn more >>

'Emergency support is shameful'

What’s it like to receive emergency assistance?

Learn more >>

Building resilience

How do we build resilience to disasters?