Gerhard Adrian

Gerhard Adrian

Permanent Representative of Germany
Constituent Body Reform Task Force chairperson
Candidate for President of WMO


The eighteenth session of the World Meteorological Congress is taking place from 3 to 14 June 2019. The top agenda item is the Constituent Body Reform. Its streamlined structure should permit the Organization to enlist leading experts and, notably, the private sectors in its activities. In this context, the Regional Office for Europe interviewed Gerhard Adrian, the chairperson of the Constituent Body Reform Task Force.

Regional Office for Europe (ROE): Professor Dr Gerhard Adrian, what is the purpose of the Constituent Body Reform and how will the WMO Member States and Territories benefit from it?

“The main purpose of this reform is to align the governance and working structures of Organization with the WMO Strategic Plan 2020-2030, which requires a holistic view on weather, climate, water and environment. Themes are increased preparedness on hydro-meteorological disasters, including the development and implementation of multi-hazard alert and warning systems. Phenomena like flash floods or droughts require forecasting systems on all timescales from minutes to decades, which can only be covered by an Earth system approach for the observation system as well as for the forecasting system. The new governance structure developed by Executive Council since the last session of Congress in 2015 follows the processes for data acquisition and processing, forecasting and prediction, services to Members and research over all sectors. Thereby an increase in effectiveness and efficiency, as well as an increased engagement of Members and experts are expected to be achieved. Among others, WMO will become more responsive and agile by a bi-annual cycle of sessions of Technical Commissions and Congress having ordinary sessions of Congress with the full agenda including elections and reporting as required by WMO Convention every four years complemented by extra-ordinary sessions dedicated to special themes in between.

"Therewith, the value for society will also be increased and national, regional and global needs are addressed in a better and more integrative way. For Members, it will be easier to be engaged in WMO matters. Thus, the whole WMO community would be able to meet every 2 years, decisions could be made faster and implemented earlier. In addition, more countries will be involved in the work of the Technical Commissions and the regional representation will be more balanced. It is hoped that this will lead to an enhanced involvement of WMO Members in WMO in general.”

ROE: How will this re-structure of the Organization affect the Regional Associations?

“The goal is to involve the Regional Associations (RAs) much more than before and to implement an efficient coordination mechanism with the Technical Commissions and other WMO bodies. The region will be responsible for the coordination of national and/or regional experts that are nominated for WMO expert teams. In addition, the RAs are supposed to assess the regional needs, requirements and priorities and forward them to the responsible Technical Commission. The RA Presidents as members of the new Technical Coordination Committee will have a direct influence on the work program of the Technical Commissions. In exchange, the Technical Commissions will provide the regions with expertise, assistance, guidance, as well as technical solutions and standards.”

ROE: What opportunities will this reform open up to the WMO Member-countries?

“A clear delineation between intergovernmental work by Technical Commissions and expert work by standing committees and/or study groups will be enforced. The latter are non-intergovernmental and hence, would be open for experts from the academia and private sector as well. The consistency of the Technical Regulations developed by multi-disciplinary commissions is expected to improve through this seamless and open approach. The engagement of a broad expert network and the flexibility of working in small focused teams will ensure a more efficient and result-based working structure. Also, a more predictable schedule of events and efficient use of financial resources, including the possibility of funding developing country experts, will lead to a better engagement of all WMO Members. It is expected that a more agile, smart WMO will coordinate support with increased speed and greater added-value for Members to provide information and services that respond to national and regional needs and emerging challenges. Thus, also the visibility and the contribution to the global agenda will be enhanced.”

ROE: Professor Adrian, why did you decide to apply as President of WMO?

“The WMO is the world’s leading organization for meteorology. Being an active WMO Executive Council member, the Permanent Representative of Germany and involved in the collaboration within the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) bodies and committees for more than 20 years, gave me the certainty to dedicate the peak of my professional career to supporting the WMO even more actively. I was encouraged by many colleagues and decided to take up this new challenge and apply for the position of President of WMO.”

ROE: What would be your main goals in the next 4 years as a WMO President?

“The WMO sets the framework for the successful cooperation of its Members to accomplish their essential tasks to ensure the well-being of their societies. Fulfilling this important duty is based on the global meteorological infrastructure coordinated by WMO. My aim is that this infrastructure, as well as the indispensable global exchange of data, are improved even further and guaranteed into the future.

Likewise, it is our collective responsibility and my main interest to strengthen the WMO. For this, a sustainable strategic plan and effective and efficient governance structures are needed. I will continue putting my energy into the Governance Reform of WMO so that it can be implemented in a way that preserves motivation and commitment at all levels without affecting the results.

A further aim is to ensure that all Members can contribute equally to the programmes of WMO and that we are facing the upcoming changes together.”

ROE: Besides the goals mentioned, what is important to you?

“The WMO is an organization with 193 Members that cooperate under the umbrella of meteorology and operational hydrology. This community is facing many challenges but also opportunities, among others, the collaboration with the private sector, the increasing amount of data and the development of technologies at a faster rate than ever before. In order to ensure the successful achievement of the goals of the organization - and thus our goals as Members of WMO - links at all levels as well as to all regions must be functional at any time. Hence, I consider it to be utmost important to work closely together with the Vice-Presidents, coming all from different regions, the Technical Commissions, the Regional Associations and the Secretariat. Personally, I will commit all of my energy into upholding the goals of the organization, though achieving them will require the joint efforts of us all. In this respect, I am willing to act as a mediator as well as to lead actively, in order to achieve progress.”

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ROE: Thank you for the interview!