World Meteorological Congress drives for more integrated earth systems strategy

Report
from World Meteorological Organization
Published on 31 May 2019 View Original

Congress agenda includes better weather, climate, water and related services, public-private partnerships, observations and data exchange, research and capacity development

The World Meteorological Congress meets from 3 to 14 June to agree on future strategy and tools to help countries increase resilience to extreme weather, water, climate and other environmental shocks, to strengthen scientific observations and predictions and to close capacity gap.

The Congress takes place every four years and decides on the strategy, policies, standards, budget and office holders of the 193-member World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This year it will discuss a sweeping reform of WMO’s governance structures to address major risks and meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

Other items on the agenda include strengthening the observation network which underpins all forecasts; improved weather and climate services in an era of climate change and more extreme weather; hydrological services and support of sustainable water management; integrated Earth systems science; facilitating capacity development; engagement with the private sector and data policy.

There will be a dedicated ocean dialogue, a session on scaling up development partnerships, a parallel hydrological assembly and a public-private dialogue and Meteorological Technology world expo showcasing the very latest climate, weather and hydrometeorological forecasting, measurement and analysis technologies.

Access to best information and services for all

The Congress is due to approve a new WMO strategic plan to achieve its overarching vision: “By 2030, a world where all nations, especially the most vulnerable, are more resilient to the socioeconomic impact of extreme weather, water, climate and other environmental events; and empowered to boost their sustainable development through the best possible services, whether over land, at sea or in the air.”

“Demands on the expertise of WMO and national meteorological and hydrological services have never been higher. The socio-economic impact of weather, climate and water-related hazards is rising because of environmental degradation, urbanization and, above all, climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Climate change is altering precipitation patterns and so increasing water stress and food security challenges, Mr Taalas underlined. It is affecting the intensity and track of tropical storms. Sea level rise is accelerating and by the end of the century may be much higher than originally forecast.

Only 27% of WMO Members have developed or advanced hydro-meteorological services, whilst 26% only deliver basic or inadequate services, according to the most recent WMO survey.

Some 94% of WMO Members have an established disaster risk reduction mechanism, but only 57% have impact-based forecasts.

WMO seeks to ensure that all countries have access to high-quality weather and climate forecasts from designated global and regional specialized centres and have multi-hazard early warning services. WMO also develops integrated urban and health services including air quality, heat waves and other stressors.

Innovation

WMO coordinates the work of thousands of experts from meteorological and hydrological services, research institutions and academia. It is the international lynchpin in the daily collection of millions of observations by satellites, land-based and upper air stations, ocean buoys and ships and aircraft. These are used for daily forecasts of weather, air quality and marine conditions, as well as long-term monitoring of the pulse of the planet.

The accuracy of forecasts has grown, but there are big geographic holes in the global basic observing system. Many developing countries, especially in Africa and parts of South America and Asia, have insufficient capacity.

“The opportunities provided by scientific innovation are huge – as are the gaps in observation coverage, which puts everyone at risk. In an era of cutting-edge satellite technology and artificial intelligence, there are countries which still lack basic rain gauges,” Mr Taalas said.

A new generation of WMO backbone infrastructures are in front of Congress: integrated observing system (WIGOS 2040 vision), WMO information system (WIS-2.0), new architecture for climate monitoring from space and seamless global data processing and forecasting system.

WMO promotes innovation in Earth system approach and science-to-service orientation. It has also intensified collaboration with development partners such as the World Bank and Green Climate Fund to boost targeted, well-informed and scaled-up investment in hydro-meteorological services.

Strategic Plan

The Congress is expected to approve a new WMO Strategic Plan for 2030.

This sets five long term goals and top overarching priorities including:

  • Enhancing preparedness for, and reducing losses of life and property from hydrometeorological extremes,
  • Supporting climate-smart decision making to build resilience and adaptation to climate risk,
  • Enhancing socioeconomic value of weather, climate, hydrological and related environmental services

In line with the strategic plan, the Congress will discuss a fundamental reform of the governance structure of WMO. The need for regular reform is being driven by increasing threats of extreme weather and climate urge action for resilience, mitigation and adaptation; growing capacity gap threatens global infrastructure and services; rapid advancements in science and technology and changing landscape of data and service delivery urge for innovative partnerships, and other forces.

WMO reform

The reform aims to coordinate systems of observation and data management, to standardize observations and measurements, to provide mechanisms for engaging with partners beyond the WMO community and to harmonize services for decision-making and socioeconomic benefits.

The potential benefits of the WMO reform process include:

  • Earth system approach embracing meteorology, climatology, hydrology, oceanography, seismology, volcanology, air quality, greenhouse gases
  • Multi-hazard and impact based seamless services covering weather, climate, water, aviation, marine, agriculture, urban, energy, health
  • Wide climate perspective which coordinate observations, services, science, mitigation and adaptation
  • Closer involvement of hydrological services in WMO activities and weather-water synergies
  • Organized and controlled engagement of private sector in WMO activities
  • Optimal use of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and Secretariat resources, thus providing more support for regional activities

For further information contact: Clare Nullis, Media Officer. Email cnullis@wmo.int, Cell + 41 79 709 13 97