World Meteorological Congress High-level segment voices support for future priorities
Geneva, 17 May 2011 (WMO) - A proposed blueprint to equip countries with the scientific knowledge they need to manage climate risks won overwhelming support at a two-day high-level segment which ended today at the World Meteorological Congress.
Heads of government and ministers from all around the world voiced strong support for the proposed Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) which is intended to make climate information available, accessible and relevant, especially to those who need it most in developing countries. They also discussed other WMO major priority areas including capacity building, disaster risk reduction, strengthened information and observation systems, and aeronautical meteorology.
Congress is due to make a formal decision about the proposed Framework and other priority areas later during its quadrennial session which lasts until 3 June and will decide on the Organization’s strategy and budget.
Ministers and high-level delegates from over 50 countries and international partners welcomed the proposed Framework.
Minimum investment for maximum gain
On 16 May, Mr Jan Egeland and Mr Mahmoud Abu Zeid, co-chairmen of a High-level Taskforce on the Framework urged the international community to go the “last mile” and make a minimal commitment of US$75 million per year to unleash the full potential of billions of dollars already invested on climate activities and spread the benefits around the world.
“Greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating. Climate change is altering the geopolitical landscape and threatens economies around the world,” U.N. Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon stated in a special message . “We must work together to assist the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt to the inevitable impacts.”
The proposed Framework would effectively close the gaps in the provision of existing information and services and would make them available to around all developing countries which have little or no such climate information. It would provide tailor-made information which is reliable and relevant.
“Many of those in science who know a lot of what climate variability and change will bring do not always know well enough what the needs of the users are in sectors like health, water, agriculture and disaster risk reduction. The users do not know what is available,” said Mr Egeland. “We need to connect the two better.”
More than US $72 million of the annual target investment in the Framework would be allocated to programmes in developing countries, with just US $3 million on administrative structures. Billions of dollars have been invested in science, in satellites, in global prediction models, in super computers. “We need that last mile of investment to reach the most vulnerable of societies,” said Mr Egeland. Norway today pledged US$2.5 million for capacity building for vulnerable developing countries.
Experience and expertise
Bangladesh Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina said the implementation of the GFCS “would be a significant step to our collective efforts in combating the impacts of climate change. It would be an essential first step in improving our ability to predict climate, and to help users incorporate the information into their decision making.” Bangladesh is one of the frontline countries confronted by the impacts of climate change and has experienced an increase in the frequency and changing pattern of floods, river erosion, cyclones and other events related to climate change. “These natural disasters have been threatening our food, water and health security, biodiversity, ecological balance, as well as diminishing livelihood options and income levels,” she said.
Indian Minister for Earth Sciences H.E. Pawan Kumar Bansal said India would share its experience and expertise in the four key areas of disaster management, water resources, agriculture and health in which GFCS is urgently required to act. India supports the establishment of an Intergovernmental Board for Climate Services. India pledged to support GFCS Secretariat with a grant of US$ 125,000.
A message from Chinese Vice Prime Minister Hui Liangyu said China supported the direction of the proposed Framework, in particular through the Regional Climate Centre in Beijing. ”China will continue to improve its capabilities in the area of meteorological forecast and prediction, meteorological disaster prevention and mitigation to response to climate change …. Thus to provide more adequate support to the safety of people’s life and property, national security and sustainable socio-economic development.”
Building capacity to cope
African countries emphasized that improved climate services envisaged by the Framework would make them better equipped to cope with increasing extreme weather and climate events which have disrupted and destroyed lives and livelihoods.
Ministers from Algeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique. Sudan the United Republic of Tanzania abd Zimbabwe joined other countries in stressing the need for more capacity building efforts in developing countries. In Namibia, Chad, Gambia and Lesotho, the worst flooding in recent history had killed livestock, damaged infrastructure and roads and disrupted the delivery of basic services like health and education, Congress heard.
“Extreme weather events such as floods, tsunamis, droughts and earth quakes are increasing in frequency and magnitude world-wide with equally catastrophic consequences. We can no longer take weather and climate information and warnings lightly but should endeavor to take concrete actions aimed at strengthening our capacities,” said H.E. Erkki Nghimtina, Minister of Works and Transport of Namibia. “The forces of nature are such that no one country can singly cope during these challenging times of natural disasters.”
Senior government officials from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Oman and Saudi Arabia, said the increasing impact of droughts, floods, air pollution and sand and dust storms underlined the impact of weather and climate and their changes.
European nations voiced their general support for WMO’s proposed future direction and strengthened priorities, as did Canada, the United States and British Caribbean Territories.
“We continue to recognize how globally coordinated climate information and services can assist decision-makers as they develop and evaluate options for adapting to a changing climate, and alternatives for mitigating future climate change,” said Dr. Kathryn Sullivan , Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation and Prediction and NOAA Deputy Administrator .
“While we recognize that there is still an enormous amount of work to be done, and challenges to overcome, we are confident that this Congress will find a solution that will move us forward in addressing urgent societal needs faced by all countries in this room.… Global challenges require global solutions, delivered as needed at the global, regional, national and local levels.”
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