The World Meteorological Organization is providing a dedicated forecaster to support the United Nations Operations and Crisis Center in the face of the rising socio-economic impact of weather, water and climate-related disasters.
Devastating tropical cyclones in the Caribbean, United States of America and Western Pacific, floods in Bangladesh and parts of India, landslides in Sierra Leone, as well as heatwaves and drought have caused devastation, death and misery in recent weeks.
The move to “embed” a meteorological specialist to broaden the scope of the UNOCC’s situational reporting and analysis, will help decision makers strengthen proactive disaster risk reduction and aid relief efforts.
It also ensures that the UN system has the best possible advice from official and authoritative meteorological and hydrological services, according to WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. Mr Taalas is spearheading a wider WMO campaign towards a globally coordinated early warning system for extreme weather.
“The devastation and loss of life in recent disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in the Caribbean and United States of America was a tragedy. Every death is one too many. But casualties would have been even higher without the accurate and timely warnings issued by national meteorological and hydrological services,” said Mr Taalas.
WMO is providing the forecaster on a one-month trial basis to UN headquarters in New York. Laura Paterson is on secondment from the UK’s Met Office and attached to the WMO Liaison Office in New York, working in cooperation with UNOCC. One of the immediate priorities is to provide expert advice to inform the relief and recovery effort in hurricane-hit parts of the Caribbean.
Ms Paterson draws on the expertise of various WMO severe weather forecasting centres and regional specialized meteorological centres daily, for input to the UN Operations and Crisis Center.
“Every year we see how severe weather devastates people’s lives across the world. This trial aims to explore how best we can channel the expertise of the WMO Members to aid the great work that the UNOCC already does in supporting UN leadership ondisaster risk reduction and aid relief” said Ms. Paterson.
The decision is part of WMO efforts to support the global agenda on sustainable development, climate change mitigation and adaption, and disaster risk reduction.
The New York posting is part of WMO and Met Office activities surrounding the International Day for Disaster Reduction, which aims to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction and is held every 13 October.
The 2017 edition continues as part of the "Sendai Seven" campaign, centred on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework. This year the focus is on reducing the number of people affected by disasters by 2030. Its theme is “Home safe home - A safe home is a family protected from displacement, poverty, injury and ill health.”