WMO’s Regional Association for South America has agreed on key priorities to improve infrastructure and strengthen capacity of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) to deliver high impact weather, water and climate services. These are necessary to promote disaster resilience and climate change adaptation in a region which has witnessed severe drought and devastating floods in recent months.
The President of the Republic of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, met with WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud and Regional Association President Julian Baez Benitez for discussions underlining the importance of meteorological and hydrological services in protecting life and property and supporting sustainable development in a country dependent on hydro-electric power and other natural resources. Paraguay hosted the session in Asuncion from 15-20 September.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eladio Loizaga, President of the National Directorate of Civil Aviation Luis Manuel Aguirre Martinez and WMO Assistant Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova and Regional Director for the Americas, Miguel Rabiolo, were also present.
At the meeting, the 13-Member Regional Association adopted its Strategic Plan. It said special attention should be given to implementing WMO’s Integrated Global Observing System and the WMO Information System, which will make it easier to provide, store, access, exchange and interpret meteorological observations.
Other key priorities included improving impact-based forecasts and early warnings for DRR, strengthening capacity of NMHSs, and implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services, which aims to increase user-driven climate services such as seasonal climate outlooks and drought monitoring, especially for the food security, water management, health and disaster risk reduction sectors.
“In the current and future context of climate change, the provision of effective climate services for decision-making will be a long-standing priority for our Organization,” WMO Secretary-General Jarraud told the opening ceremony.
“All over the world, climate change is negatively affecting a number of infectious diseases and environmental issues, from malaria or dengue fever to heat stress or air pollution. The demand for climate services targeting the health community is clear. Equally clear is the need for a more coordinated approach, involving national agencies dealing with public health, the environment, and meteorology,” said Mr Jarraud.
The meeting also focused on improved service delivery, especially through the Severe Weather Forecasting and Disaster Risk Reduction Demonstration Project.
South America has witnessed a number of extreme weather events this year, including floods which displaced 200,000 people in Paraguay. The region is exposed to natural climate variability caused by phenomenon such as El Niño/La Niña events and to human-induced climate change which is leading to more heat-waves, heavy precipitation, the retreat of glaciers in the Andes and the harmful impact of ocean acidification on marine life.
At its recent session, also held in Paraguay, the WMO Commission for Basic Systems recommended the formal designation of the Regional Climate Center for Western South America (RCC-WSA), hosted by the International Center for Investigation of El Niño (CIIFEN) in Ecuador. This will support the provision of climate services including seasonal forecasts and tailored information for decision-support in climate-sensitive sectors in the sub-region. Another such center, for Southern South America, is currently in a demonstration phase.
The Regional Association meeting agreed to enhance regional activities, building a common position on issues like data policy, commercialization and public/private sector relationship; strengthen links with development partners and address human and financial resource challenges.
Julian Baez (Paraguay) was re-elected as President and Carlos Naranjo (Equador) as Vice-President. WMO has six regional associations, which meet every four years.