Geneva, 24 June 2016 (WMO) The World Meteorological Organization’s Executive Council has concluded its annual session with decisions that will strengthen support for global agreements on climate change, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.
Senior representatives of private enterprises took part in a first-ever special dialogue devoted to cooperation between the public and private sectors. The Executive Council stressed the need to maintain the role of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services as the single authoritative source of warnings and an official source of weather, climate and hydrological information services for the benefit of society, whilst also harnessing the innovation and technology of the rapidly growing private weather-services sector.
The Executive Council also agreed on resolutions to reinforce WMO climate programmes; to strengthen work on high-impact weather research and forecasts; to improve and widen polar research and observations to include high mountain regions; to support ocean monitoring and safety activities; to foster integrated information and observing systems; to promote modern aviation meteorology services; and to continue with capacity development activities.
“The need for strong, well-funded National Meteorological and Hydrological Services is more necessary than ever to prepare for and protect against climate change and natural disasters, which is evidenced through more extreme weather such as intense heat and rainfall and other environmental hazards,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“The Earth just passed another unfortunate milestone when carbon dioxide surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) at the remote, unpopulated South Pole,” said Mr Taalas.
“May was the 13th consecutive month to break global temperature records. This is unprecedented. Colder than average global temperatures are unknown to anybody under 30 years old.”
“As far as the climate is concerned, we are in uncharted territory. We need to harness the ingenuity and innovation of science to help make the world safer and more sustainable,” said Mr Taalas.
Cooperation between public and private sectors
The Executive Council agreed that WMO should develop a strategy to guide the future development of “win-win” public-private partnerships.
“ It opened the door for the private sector to cooperate with WMO. That was a very good decision,” said Mr Taalas.
The aim is to promote dynamic weather and climate services for the good of society, whilst guaranteeing the role of NMHSs as an authoritative, trusted source of information essential to the Public Good mission of protecting the lives, health and safety of citizens.
“There is an explosion in the availability and types of data, which is coming at us faster and from an increasing number of sources, as more sensors, applications and devices, such as satellites and radars, are digitalized and connected. This is in turn being accessed by increasingly connected storage and computing capacity, giving rise to ‘the cloud’ and the growth of artificial intelligence engines. And it all comes with increasingly sophisticated and effective ways of communicating and getting our products and services out to those who need them,” said WMO President David Grimes.
“I see this as a game-changer, a true paradigm shift in the ways by which National Meteorological and Hydrological Services will operate in the future. We cannot just carry on with our traditional business models,” said Mr Grimes.
Weather and Climate Services
The Executive Council agreed a number of decisions to strengthen results-oriented, impact- and risk-based weather and climate activities and to increase WMO’s authority and relevance in supporting the Paris Agreement, the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, and UN 2030 Sustainable Development agenda.
In support of the Paris Agreement, a key priority for WMO will be the development of an Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System that will allow governments to have scientifically sound and objective measurements of CO2 (for instance, within urban areas) in order to craft more targeted measures for limiting them. This would build on the successful WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Programme which measures atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
WMO, which recently became the first UN body to win accreditation to the Green Climate Fund, will continue its drive to improve the provision and use of climate services such as seasonal outlooks. Priority target areas are agriculture and food security, water management, health, disaster risk reduction and energy. WMO will continue to be a leader on UN system collaboration and on providing scientific information and services.
Awards and Governance
Professor Dame Julia Slingo, chief scientist of the UK’s Met Office, received WMO’s top award, the IMO prize, for her outstanding contribution to meteorology and climate science.
The Executive Council approved the nomination of Elena Manaenkova as Deputy Secretary-General and Wenjian Zhang as Assistant Secretary-General. They will assume their responsibilities on 1 September.
It also discussed ways to streamline WMO Secretariat operating procedures to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.
The Executive Council consists of the president, three vice-presidents, the six regional association presidents and 27 directors of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services serving in their personal capacities for the purposes of the WMO Convention. It met from 15 to 23 June 2016.
The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water