No. 975 - Global initiative to provide climate services for society gains momentum

No. 975 - Global initiative to provide climate services for society gains momentum



28 June 2013
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Geneva, 28 June 2013 (WMO) - Extreme events are the face of changing climate 

Progress in rolling out operational climate services vital to help countries and communities cope with long-term climate change and associated extreme weather events is set to receive a boost at an intergovernmental meeting to consider a road map for future action.

The Intergovernmental Board on Climate Services holds its first session 2 to 5 July 2013 to discuss implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). This is a country-driven initiative to provide accurate and accessible climate services to users such as disaster management authorities, water and energy utilities, public health agencies, the transport sector, farmers as well as the community at large. 

The global push to deliver climate information and services is spearheaded by the World Meteorological Organization in partnership with many other international organizations such as United Nations agencies, the World Bank and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. Governments and their agencies are developing the GFCS at national level.

“We have always lived with natural variations in our climate but now we also have to live with the harsh reality of human-induced climate change”, said WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud. “The first decade of the 21st century was the warmest since the start of instrumental records. It witnessed more destructive flooding, severe droughts, heat waves, heavy rainfall and severe storms, as well as a dramatic reduction in the summer extent of Arctic sea ice. With almost every passing month we see new records for either heat, rainfall or some other extreme climate event,” he said.

“We are already seeing the effects of climate change and so we need to take action through the use of scientifically-based climate services to cushion the impact on our environment, our economies and our societies,” said Mr Jarraud.

“Decisions on flood defences and dams, for instance, are often based on past experience and not on the likely future. But the past climate is no longer a sufficient guide to the future. We need to anticipate the climate we shall have in the next 50 to 100 years,” he said.

“It’s a huge challenge but it’s not a hopeless challenge if we all work together,” said Mr Jarraud. “In the past few decades we have seen great progress in weather forecasting and this is now being mirrored by advances in longer-term climate predictions which form the basis of seasonal climate outlooks, El Niño watches, regional drought monitors, heat-health warning systems and other climate services,” he said.

The Intergovernmental Board on Climate Services is meant to ensure coordination from the global to the national levels and engage all stakeholders and the entire UN system. The Board will discuss the GFCS implementation plan, including progress in the initial priority areas of food security, water management, disaster risk reduction and health. It will also discuss a compendium of projects, resource mobilization and pillars of the GFCS, including a platform to bring the providers and users of climate services together to ensure that the scientific information provided by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services is understandable and useful to the wide variety of different users.

A one-day Dialogue on Practical Action for Operational Climate Services takes place 1 July. The Dialogue will be attended by senior representatives from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services as well as from the agricultural, health, water, disaster risk reduction, humanitarian and engineering sectors.

An estimated 70 nations,  including most of the Least Developed Countrires, have inadequate or no climate services and are ill-equipped to meet the challenges of both natural variations in the climate and human induced climate change.

In order to kick-start climate services at the national level, WMO together with partners has launched pilot projects in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and Chad and is preparing projects in many other countries.

Thanks to the participation of the World Bank and other major donors, there are projects to provide climate services in a number of other developing countries, including Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Tanzania, Viet Nam and Yemen.

To support regional level implementation, regional workshops on climate services for the Caribbean and for Least Developed Countries in Asia have been held. The small islands states of the South West Pacific are also a focus region for the development of climate services. This is important as the communities in this region will be heavily impacted by further changes in the climate.

There are growing numbers of examples of collaboration between developed and developing countries and among developing countries.

As of June 2013, contributions and pledges to the GFCS total some 29 million Swiss francs, with Norway and Canada being the top donors and most active supporters of the programme. Other countries are keen to offer support and the GFCS now features in the majority of climate-related capacity development work of various agencies.

An Interagency Coordination Group on the GFCS ensures cooperation between UN agencies and other partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO) and WMO.

Notes to Editors: Coinciding with the Intergovernmental Board meeting, WMO will issue a report 3 July on The Global Climate 2001-2010, A Decade of Extremes which analyses our changing climate, extreme events and their impacts.


The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water

For more information, please contact:

Clare Nullis, Media Officer, Communications and Public Affairs, Tel: +(41 22) 730 8478; 41-79) 7091397 (cell)


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