More investment in under-funded hydrometeorological services is urgently needed in the face of growing exposure to weather and water related hazards which are being compounded by climate change, urbanization and population increase.
To address the widening service delivery gap, the World Meteorological Organization and the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) convened a development partners roundtable from 13 to 14 April.
The roundtable, attended by over 50 high-level participants from development agencies and weather and hydrological services, called for improved coordination measures to ensure that investments hit their targets. Such measures include country-level modernization plans for national meteorological and hydrological services, forums among development partners, and better use of indicators to measure progress on services over time.
Participants also supported transparent information exchange through mechanisms like the WMO Country Profile Database, a central pool of information on national hydrometeorological services.
“We need to invest more in hydrometeorological services, in early warning services and in climate services,”said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “It is essential to optimize use of resources and ensure the sustainability of investments. WMO is well positioned to give you advice on how to achieve this,” he said.
Mr Taalas pointed out the critical role that the providers of hydrometeorological services play in assisting countries to address climate change and pursue sustainable development.
“Now is the time to invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Hydrometeorological services are key players in this,” said Mr Taalas. Investments typically yield a return of ten times – or even greater, he said.
“The link between climate change and poverty is extremely high,” said Francis Ghesquiere, GFDRR Head. “Communities manage to get out of poverty but then get pushed back into poverty because of extreme events, because of droughts and heatwaves. There really is a compelling case for better understanding and tackling of these events.”
According to World Bank Estimates, improved hydrometeorological services would increase productivity by $30 billion. Better early warning systems would save about $ 2 billion, said Mr Ghesquiere.
The total amount of World Bank investments in hydrometeorological services under preparation or implementation currently total $ 500 million. These will bring access to better early warning systems to another 100 million people in 15 developing countries, he said.
Mr Ghesquiere said that in order to attract more investment, it was important to transform hydrometeorological services into service providers linked to sectors such as agriculture, energy and civil protection.
The roundtable sought to identify ways to achieve sustained engagement and a holistic, service -oriented approach. It is intended to be the first in a series of regular high-level dialogues.