The Arab Council of Ministers Responsible for Meteorology and Climate has held its first session to advance the agenda of meteorology and climate change mitigation and adaptation in the region, which is particularly exposed to environmental hazards, extreme weather and water stress.
The Council of Ministers agreed to move ahead with the implementation of the road map for capacity development, supported by WMO. The focus will be on developing an integrated strategy for meteorology in the Arab region to support sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
The meeting, which took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on 12 May, was opened by Abdulla Al-Mandoos, Executive Director of National Center of Meteorology and Seismology and Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates with WMO, on behave of His Excellency Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Centre of Meteorology. It was attended by a number of Ministers responsible for Meteorology and Climate in Arab countries and Jamal Gab Alla, Director of Environment, Housing, Water Resources and Sustainable Development Department of the League of Arab States
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas welcomed the ministerial session, as a “critical milestone in regional cooperation.”
“Climate change brings new challenges and impacts, among which increased frequency and intensity of some natural hazards,” Mr Taalas said.
Some examples of recent weather and climate extremes in the region include:
- Summer of 2015: temperature records in Morocco (50% reduction in citrus fruit production), affected also by severe drought, Egypt (47.6 °C at Luxor) and Jordan (nearly 8 °C above normal, reaching 47 °C at Wadi Elrayyan).
- Tropical cyclone Chapala followed by Cyclone Megh made landfall in Yemen and led to substantial flooding in November 2015. These were the first tropical cyclones to make landfall in Yemen at hurricane strength during the satellite era.
- Floods were major events striking Arabian Peninsula and Middle East with casualties (in UAE in early March 2015, nearly 300 mm of rain in less than a week).
- Sand and dust storms are part of natural meteorological hazards that affect the Arab region. The apparent increase in the frequency of sand and dust storms needs to be studied more in-depth to understand a possible linkage with climate change.
Mr. Talaas said WMO looked to the Ministerial Council to provide regional vision and leadership, strategic approach to capacity development, and Investments to enable NMHSs in the Arab region to meet tier mandates more efficiently and effectively.
Mr Taalas pledged WMO support for capacity development and the integrated strategy for meteorology in the Arab region, following the example of the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology which has also developed an integrated strategy.
Mr Al-Mandoos highlighted the important role played by WMO through issuing standards, and facilitating data exchange/sharing and the establishment of regional centres, particularly in developing countries which enable the NMHSs all over the world play their roles more effectively and efficiently.
All delegations indicated that Arab countries has been affected by the climate change which lead to increase of temperature, reduce rainfall, and increase droughts and desertification. They stressed the importance of exchange of information and experience among NMHSs in Arab countries and they highlighted the need for more training in this field