The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2019 plots the most probable and highest global risks challenging humankind – all relate to weather, climate, water and environment, the core of WMO activities. Societies, communities, citizens and international development partners are looking to WMO to provide the best available data, knowledge and services to allay such risks. They look to WMO to provide the foundation for climate-resilient, sustainable development. Yet, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in many developing countries are not properly equipped to deliver basic weather, climate and water services. There are major gaps: a gap between expectations and capacity, and a gap between developed and developing countries.
Thus, the WMO Strategic Plan 2020–2030 has put the strengthening of Member capacity at centre stage. The WMO reform, based on the WMO Strategic Plan, aims to boost the creation of innovative mechanisms that will open the doors to development institutions to better benefit from WMO authoritative expertise and knowledge in understanding the changing climate. A scaling up of partnerships is going to be crucial in WMO efforts to close the capacity gap, because more money, “better” money and a strong common commitment is needed. The Alliance for Hydromet Development offers one example of how this will be achieved.
Scaling up effective development partnerships
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas and World Bank Vice-President for Sustainable Development Laura Tuck announced in October 2018 the creation of the Alliance for Hydromet Development. The Alliance will bring together WMO and major development and climate finance partners behind a strong commitment to do more and “better” in strengthening developing country capacity for the provision of high-quality weather, climate and hydrological data and services.
US$ 400 billion is the average flow of annual investments in climate action. A few billion of that sum are invested in early warning systems (EWS), climate information services and strengthening capacity of NMHSs. The World Bank and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) have already invested some US$ 2 billion and several partners have made commitments to further step up their financing. For example, the World Bank announced an annual investment of US$ 10 billion for climate-change adaption, including better forecasts, EWS and climate services in 30 countries.
But more is needed. The World Bank estimates that additional investments of up to US$ 2 billion are needed to create national institutions that are capable, and fully equipped to deliver timely, reliable climate, weather and water information relevant for policy and investment decisions. The Alliance will bring WMO and development and climate finance partners together to close the finance gap.
Better use of finance
However, uncoordinated investments have led to a fragmented flow of internationally funded projects, often resulting in a patchwork of observation infrastructure and technologies that are impossible for NMHSs with low capacity and inadequate operating and maintenance resources to sustain. To address this, the Alliance will create a “code of conduct” for all partners to adhere to common principles on strengthening the capacity of developing countries for the provision of high-quality weather, climate and hydrological data and services in a coordinated and sustainable manner.
Leverage collective efforts
The Alliance will serve as a platform to connect the dots between projects and initiatives, including:
- The Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) focused on providing climate information services needed for disaster risk reduction, food security, health services, water resource management and energy efficiency.
- The Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative (CREWS), a growing initiative that brings together the World Bank, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and WMO to partner in EWS projects in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. To date, seven countries – Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland – are financing this initiative, and more funding partners are expected to join.
- WMO Country Support Initiative is currently under preparation. The initiative will mobilize funding from bilateral partners towards providing on-demand and rapid response support to NMHSs to fill capacity gaps and to ensure that proposed new projects are based on WMO standards and knowledge and strengthen national observation systems, NMHS capacity and service delivery in a systemic manner. The Country Support initiative will support countries and their international development partners on existing and planned projects.
The Alliance will help to enable all NMHSs to contribute to the ambitious global climate agenda.