Former Secretaries-General of WMO

Former Secretaries-General of WMO

Michel JarraudMichel Jarraud (1952), France

Secretary-General from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2015

Mr Jarraud also served as Chair of UN Water from 2012 to 2016. Before joining the WMO Secretariat as Deputy Secretary-General in January 1995, Mr Jarraud devoted part of his career to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF): From 1978 to 1985, he was a researcher in numerical weather, then Director of the Operational Department in 1990, before being nominated Deputy Director of the Centre in 1991.

Mr Jarraud started his career with the French National Meteorological Service, Météo-France, as a researcher (1976-1978). He re-joined Météo-France again from 1986-1989 as Director of the Weather Forecasting Department.

Mr Jarraud is a scientist and a meteorologist with degrees from the Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole de la Météorologie Nationale. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, a member of the Société Météorologique de France, the Royal Meteorological Society and the African Meteorological Society as well as an Honorary Member of the Chinese Meteorological Society and the Cuban Meteorological Society.

Most notable achievement under his leadership:

  • Nobel Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • WMO receives the Montreal Protocol Partners Award
  • World Climate Conference-3 launch of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS)
  • WMO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) host the United Nations (UN) System Chief Executives' Board (CEB)
  • International Polar Year 2012 Conference – From Knowledge to Action 
  • High-level meeting on National Drought Policy
  • The first World Weather Open Science Conference
  • WMO Conference on Gender Dimensions of Weather and Climate Services
  • Launch of MeteoWorld and WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

On 28 June 2016, Mr Jarraud was nominated Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France in recognition of his achievements in the service of meteorological science and of his ability to mobilize the international community in the fight against climate change.

Statements and messages from Mr Jarraud’s term as Secretary-General are available in an offline archive.

SG Obasi/WMO

Godwin Olu Patrick Obasi (1933-2007), Nigeria

Secretary-General from 1 January 1984 to 31 December 2003

Professor G.O.P. Obasi was the first member of the Secretariat to be so elected as Secretary-General and the first African to be elected head of a UN body.

After a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Physics (1959) from McGill University, Canada, and an MSc and PhD in meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, he joined the National Meteorological Service of Nigeria. Four years later, he left to join the University of East Africa (which became the University of Nairobi), where he became Chairman of the Department of Meteorology and Dean of the Faculty of Science.

In 1978, he joined the WMO Secretariat as Director of Education and Training.

Most notable achievement under his leadership:

  • WMO convened the Second World Climate Conference (WCC) in Geneva in 1990, following which the UN General Assembly created the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • UNEP and WMO initiated the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the secretariat of which is hosted by WMO.
Aksel C. Wiin-Nielsen/WMO

Aksel C. Wiin-Nielsen (1924–2010), Denmark

Secretary-General from 1 January 1980 to 31 December 1983

A. C. Wiin-Nielsen was a professor of meteorology at the University of Copenhagen, the University of Michigan and Director of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) before he became Secretary-General of WMO.

David Arthur Davies/WMO

David Arthur Davies (1913-1990), United Kingdom

Secretary-General from 1 January 1956 to 31 December 1979

D.A. Davies obtained first-class Honours degrees in both Mathematics and Physics from the University of Wales in 1934/35, then joined the Meteorological Office. He served with the Royal Air Force during the war, then rejoined the Meteorological Office as head of the branch responsible for overseas aviation. In 1949, he was became the Director of the East African Meteorological Department (EAMD), which at that time covered the area now within Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and some offshore islands.

As Director of EAMD, Davies became the East African Permanent Representative to WMO. As such he attended the first session of the World Meteorological Congress in 1951, when he was elected as President of WMO Regional Association I (Africa). At the 2nd World Meteorological Congress in 1955, he was elected Secretary-General. At the time, the annual budget of the Organization was some US$400 000 and the Secretariat numbered about 40.

Most notable achievement under his leadership:

  • The International Geophysical Year (IGY), a vast scientific research programme in the meteorological aspects of which practically all the countries of the world would participate.
  • Establishment of the World Weather Watch (www) for the global exchange and processing of meteorological observations.
  • Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP) launched with International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU).

Following his retirement, he was appointed Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1980.

Gustav Swoboda/WMO

Gustav Swoboda, Switzerland

Secretary-General from 1 January 1952 to 31 December 1955

The World Meteorological Convention was signed on 11 October 1947 and came into force on 23 March 1950. In the interim, the work of the International Meteorological Organization – its predecessor, founded in 1879 – continued. The last meeting of the IMO Conference of Directors was held in Paris in March 1951 and IMO formally became the World Meteorological Organization on the 17 March 1951. Dr Gustav Swoboda became the first Secretary-General.