El Niño is currently underway, and the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is warning that it could threaten lives and devastate agriculture in some parts of the world.
The climatic event could also have drastic weather effects like increased rainfall and stronger storms.
“The declaration by WMO is the signal to governments around the world to mobilise preparations," says Petteri Taalas, the WMO secretary-general.
The El Niño climate event is responsible for raising global temperatures and aggravating extreme weather events.
The world's hottest year on record so far was 2016, coinciding with a strong El Niño - although climate change has fuelled extreme temperatures even in years without the phenomenon
El Niño pushes warm water in the Pacific Ocean eastwards, causing the Pacific jet stream to move south of its neutral position.
Abnormal rainfall due across Latin America is raising fears for the agricultural sector, according to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations