GENEVA 12 June 2015 (WMO) - The World Meteorological Organization’s quadrennial Congress ended today, with the adoption of a new strategic plan, and related budget as well as the appointment of a new Secretary-General.
The strategic plan sets out priorities for the post 2015 global agenda. These include disaster risk reduction; climate services to help climate change adaptation and sustainable development; capacity development; polar and high mountain region research and monitoring; and strengthened observing and information systems. It also envisages a more cross-cutting urban focus and greater emphasis on marine weather activities.
“Even as Congress met, we witnessed a number of extreme events including the deadly heatwave in India and the torrential rain and flooding in the southern United States of America,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “High impact weather and climate extremes are likely to occur with greater frequency and intensity due to climate change.”
“Rising temperatures, a changing water cycle, record amounts of greenhouse gases, and warming and acidifying oceans are having a major impact on society,” said Mr Jarraud. “We still have a window of opportunity to act and prevent irreversible damage, but it is closing fast.”
“The demand for services of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services has never been higher. Investment in these services will lead to major socio-economic benefits,” said Mr Jarraud.
Insured losses from natural catastrophes have ranged between $10 billion and $50 billion a year internationally over the past decade. Between 1970 and 2012, nearly 2 million people were killed by hydro-meteorological hazards, although the death toll is on a downward trend because of improved early warnings and disaster prevention. Increased urbanization, especially in densely populated coastal areas, is exposing more people to multiple risks, including air pollution.
Environmental hazards like space weather, volcanic ash and sand and dust storms also have considerable potential to cause economic losses because of the disruption to communications and transport.
“The decisions of Congress have put WMO in a strong position to fully participate in the post 2015 international agenda,” said WMO President David Grimes. “We have charted a clear path forward that will enable Members to better contribute to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction for 2015-2030, the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda and to improve our understanding of climate variability and change through the provision of fit for purpose services underpinned by investments in science and technology,” he said.
In recognition of the growing demands upon WMO, Congress approved a regular budget of 266,2 million Swiss Francs for 2016-2019, a 2% increase over the 2012-2015 period. An increased reliance on extra-budgetary contributions is foreseen for a number of programmes.
Congress appointed Petteri Taalas, Director-General of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, as the next Secretary-General for a four-year mandate starting 1 January 2016. He will replace Michel Jarraud (France) who has served the maximum three terms in office. Mr Jarraud was acclaimed as Secretary-General emeritus in recognition of his services to WMO.
Congress re-elected David Grimes (Canada) as President, and Antonio Divino Moura (Brazil), Mieczyslaw S. Ostojski (Poland) and Abdalah Mokssit (Morocco) as First, Second and Third Vice Presidents respectively.
It also elected 27 additional members of the Executive Council.
Priority Areas for the 2016-2019 include:
Disaster Risk Reduction: Improve the accuracy and effectiveness of high quality impact-based forecasts and multi-hazard early warnings of extreme weather, climate, water and environmental events from the tropics to the poles.
Global Framework for Climate Services: Improve provision and use of climate services like seasonal to sub-seasonal predictions, especially for priority areas of food security, water management, health and disaster risk reduction.
WMO Integrated Global Observing System: strengthen the global observing and information systems for robust, standardized, integrated, accurate and quality assured relevant observations of the Earth System.
Aviation meteorological services: Improve the ability of national meteorological services to provide sustainable high quality services to support safety, efficiency and regularity of the air transport worldwide, with due account to environmental factors.
Polar and High Mountain regions: Improve operational meteorological and hydrological monitoring, prediction and services in polar, and high mountain regions, where the scale of environmental change has significant implications on weather and climate patterns worldwide.
Capacity Development: Enhance the capacity of NMHSs to deliver on their mission by developing and improving competent human resource, technical and institutional capacities and infrastructure, particularly in developing, least developed and small island developing states.
WMO Governance: Improve efficiency and effectiveness of WMO though continuous improvement measures based on a strategic review of WMO structures, operating arrangements and budgeting practices.
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), e‑mail: cnullis(at) wmo.int .