Supported and hosted by the Water Youth Network and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) thematic group, the Early Warning Systems (EWS) Young Professionals Network is envisioned as a collaborative space for early-career policy-makers, practitioners and researchers from multiple disciplines and diverse geographical regions, working at local, national, regional and international levels. As young professionals working on EWS we aspire to be inclusive, break down disciplinary barriers, embrace changing paradigms and put forth new approaches to enable effective Early Warning Systems (EWS).
Since launching the network at the 2nd WMO Multi-Hazard EWS conference in Geneva and publishing our article on The Role of Young Professionals in Driving the Integration of Early Warning Systems in the WMO Bulletin, we wanted to reflect on who we are collectively as a network and where we want to go.
As a network scattered across the globe, it is sometimes difficult to grasp who we are as a community. If you are already in the network or thinking about joining, you may have been wondering who your like-minded peers are. In this blog, we collated and analysed our member surveys (yes we actually used the information) to give a snapshot of our members; where are we from, how old are we, what type of organisations we work in, the component of EWS we mostly work and finally what we hope to achieve as an EWS young professionals network.
We are a global community with seventy-nine (79) members representing forty-one (41) countries. That’s more countries than the World Cup just in case you were wondering. Our goal, to eventually have members in all countries, even the ones not visible on the map.
It’s no secret the quality of a country’s EWS varies depending on their susceptibility to risk and their access to technical and financial capacity and resources. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction aims to close this gap through its global target (g): increasing the availability of and access to multi-hazard EWS and disaster risk information and assessment to people. Coming from diverse backgrounds working on a common goal gives us an opportunity to close this gap by sharing our similarities and contemplating our differences.
How do you think EWS varies from country to country?
By one definition, a young professional is an individual with a first degree under the age of 35 or within the first seven years of employment after the award of their most recently attained degree. This includes early career researchers and young academics. However, we want to create a space where everyone is welcome if they identify themselves as a young professional. We use the above definition as a guiding principle to create a boundary for members.
Our outreach is also inclusive of empowering and promoting the role of youth and youth driven projects in their local communities. Additionally, we foster collaborations and partnerships with “senior” professionals and organisations who share our common objective.
How can we form greater connections between young and senior professionals?
The success of an end-to-end and people-centred EWS requires the development and integration of the four components of EWS (see WMO 2018). This is one of the biggest challenges in EWS but by creating a community of young professionals with multidisciplinary skills, connections between the different EWS components can more easily be made. Presently, the majority of members (57%) work in detection, monitoring and forecasting while the remaining members are equally represented in the other components.
What do you think are the most challenging connections to draw across components, and why?
Coordination and integration of multiple EWS stakeholders is also essential for an interdisciplinary approach. It is great to see that our members are working across public, private and non-profit sectors. As a community, we have an opportunity to discuss the roles, responsibilities and relationships of all stakeholders within the system.
Research and Academia represent 31% of all members, combined national meteorological and hydrological agencies represent 28% and NGOs with 21%. This demonstrates the diversity of our community and the unique opportunity for members to interact across organisations and sectors – something which they may not be able to do otherwise. Our community offers the opportunity to exchange knowledge and connect policy, science and practice as such embracing the integration of the best scientific and local knowledge to generate effective people-centred and end-to-end EWS. However as a researcher, I see how easy it is to become consumed by one’s research without being aware of the practical applications and end-user requirements. There needs to be more fluid two-way communication between researchers and practitioners to capture synergies – something which this community aims to facilitate.
So is your organisation type represented? Do you think any organisations are missing?
Member surveys asked – What would you like to see this EWS network achieve? This is what you told us!
What do you think? Do you think your ideas have been captured in the word cloud?
We have a diverse group of young eager professionals ready to play their part in strengthening EWS globally to achieve Target G of the Sendai Framework. We may speak different languages – natively and professionally – but our objective is the same, to improve the effectiveness of EWS and reduce impacts on society. Above all, we aim to inspire each other to become future EWS professionals.
The data was collated and analysed from the member surveys upon signing up to join the network but we are all more than just data points. The survey doesn’t substitute getting to know each other and our interests in a more interactive way. As a result, we have created a Linkedin group (Yes, I know another group) and will be sending out an invitation soon. We hope to enable a welcoming environment where we can openly discuss our thoughts, share knowledge and encourage collaboration.
If you are already a member please share your thoughts. We would love to hear your responses to the above four questions.
If you are not a member yet, we would love you to sign up to join the network.