WMO serves the interests of its Members. It seeks to support them in achieving their goals in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. In particular, WMO Members are committed to delivering high-quality weather, climate and water information and services that will assist decision-makers at all levels of society. These services contribute to the global agenda, notably the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Established in 1950, WMO recognizes the need to continuously adapt to a rapidly changing world. The need for regular reform is being driven by environmental degradation, resource constraints, increased competition, technological advances, and other forces. The goal for WMO is to remain fit-for-purpose and to become more and more nimble and cost-effective. The reform aims to coordinate systems of observation and data management, to standarize 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:
- Earth system approach: meteorology, climatology, hydrology, oceanography, seismology, volcanology, air quality, greenhouse gases
- Multi-hazard and impact based seamless services: weather, climate, water, aviation, marine, agriculture, urban, energy, health
- Wide climate perspective: observations, services, science, mitigation and adaptation
- Engagement 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
How the reform process works
The work of the WMO is guided by strategic and operational plans that are adopted every four years. The 2020–2023 Strategic Plan will be adopted by the Eighteenth World Meteorological Congress in June 2019. In 2015, the Seventeenth Congress “requested the Executive Council to continue to introduce specific measures for improvement of WMO processes and practices and also to undertake a holistic review of the Organization, including its processes and working practices, in implementing the Strategic Plan 2016–2019.”
In addition to Congress, which is the ultimate decision-making body of WMO, the WMO governance structure currently includes the Executive Council, six Regional Associations (RAs), and eight Technical Commissions (TCs). As per the request of Congress, the review will address the overall structure of this group of bodies as well as the composition of each one’s membership. This will include the politically sensitive issue of EC membership (including the number and distribution of seats and the schedule for rotation of members). The review may also address other concerns, such as coordination among bodies, the role of WMO regional offices, and the perception that meetings and costs have proliferated. Any reform will require a smooth transition that does not disrupt ongoing business.
“Congress requested the Executive Council to provide recommendations to the Eighteenth Congress on constituent body constructs, as appropriate, including possible new structures for TCs, RAs, EC, and also to provide recommendations on rules, procedures, processes, working mechanisms, and duties, of constituent bodies, WMO Officers (President, vice presidents, PRAs [Presidents of Regional Associations] and PTCs [Presidents of Technical Commissions]) and the relationship between them and the WMO Secretariat to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Organization and good governance.”
In response to this request, the 2016 annual meeting of the Executive Council (EC) tasked the EC Working Group on Strategic and Operational Planning (WG-SOP) with launching this review. The WG-SOP established a subgroup on Structure, Planning and Budget to look into this issue as well as the preparation of the 2020–2023 WMO Strategic and Operational Plans. The reform process, therefore, is taking place in parallel with the development of the new Strategic Plan.