A regional consultation is taking place on the development of climate services for the mountainous Hindu-Kush-Himalayan region, known as the Third Pole, which covers an area of more than 4.3 million square kilometres and provides water supplies for about 45% of the world’s population.
More than 50 participants from countries in the region as well as experts from around the world, are at the meeting which aims to improve both the provision and use of climate services in the region, with a special focus on agriculture and food security, water management, health, disaster risk reduction and renewable energy.
Theconsultation from 9-11 March in Jaipur, India, is organized by the India Meteorological Department and the World Meteorological Organization. It was inaugurated by Dr M. Rajeevan, Secretary of India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences and Chairman of the Earth System Science Organization and Earth Commission.
Dr Rajeevan highlighted the need for better observations, development of user-friendly models and strengthened partnerships within the Third Pole region. He assured India’s support in developing a road map, setting priorities and sharing expertise in climate change and climate services.
"Even weather forecasts are challenging in the Third Pole but now is time to start climate services," said Dr Rajeevan. "The Ministry of Earth Sciences will provide full support to go ahead with this initiative," he said.
"Identification of current status of capacity in the region, data generation and dissemination to users, information and product requirements, institutional mechanisms and estimation of probable impacts of climate change on different sectors are needed for further development of effective national and regional climate services, said Dr Laxman Singh Rathore, Director General of Meteorology, Permanent Representative of India with WMO and Co Vice-chair of Inter Governmental Board for Climate Services.
Examples of climate services include agro-meteorological bulletins (these currently reach 11.4 million farmers by mobile phone in India), and heat-health early warning systems.
The Third Pole region spans Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It has a fragile ecosystem and is the largest storage of snow and ice beyond the Poles. Changes in its cryosphere will affect the whole region.
The consultation is one of many activities being undertaken to implement the Global Framework for Climate Services at regional and national scales. The programme is funded by a grant from the Government of Canada and is currently being implemented by WMO, regional and national partners in the Pacific, the Caribbean, South Asia, the Arctic and Indian Ocean.
GFCS Project Officer Veronica Grasso said the consultation would provide an appreciation of the current capabilities and challenges with respect to the provision and application of climate services in the region and help develop an action plan for the future.