Developing Human Resources for Providing Climate Services

In the ten years since the World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3) and the development of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), climate services have been recognized as critical to society for making decisions on how to cope with climate variability and change. Implementation of the GFCS uncovered large gaps in climate service competency across all WMO Regions, particularly in less developed countries. The Report of the High-level Taskforce for the GFCS in 2011 (WMO publication no. 1065) indicated that over one third of national services had only Category I: Basic Capacity or below infrastructure for delivery of climate services. This fact has led to intensive capacity development efforts by WMO and its partner agencies and institutions.

Developing HR for Climate ServicesBasic Climate Service Capacity is defined as securing, archiving and opening access to a country’s climate record as a climatological dataset. It is the foundation for delivering climate services, however, that includes only a limited interaction with users. Higher capacity levels include producing information products, predictions (probabilistic forecasts), and projections (estimated impacts under various scenarios, such as reduced or increased greenhouse gas emissions) and higher levels of user interaction. This is necessary in order to develop customized products and services needed by governments and industries. From 2014–2018, the Expert Team on Education and Training of the WMO Commission for Climatology (CCl) Open Panel of Experts on Capacity Development developed a Competency Framework for Provision of Climate Services. The new Competency Framework, published in WMO Technical Regulations, Volume I (WMO publication No. 49), identifies five competency units:

  1. Create and manage climate datasets
  2. Derive products from climate data
  3. Create and/or interpret climate forecasts, climate projections and model output
  4. Ensure the quality of climate information and services
  5. Communicate climatological information with users

These high-level competency units describe the core functions of a full-capacity national climate service. Each unit includes more detailed descriptions of what comprises performance of these tasks as well as learning outcomes to guide assessment and training.

But the definition of a competency framework is only a first step in ensuring capacity development of human resources. It must be followed by implementation, including adaptation and adoption of the framework, competency assessment procedures and provision of adequate training to close competency gaps.  In this regard, in the 2019–2023 period, a CCl Expert Team on Human Resources Development will:

  • Publish the drafted Guidelines for the Assessment of Competencies for the Provision of Climate Services
  • Develop a Basic Instructional Package for Climate Services (BIP-CS) based on the competency framework and associated learning outcomes. The BIP-CS will be a general qualification for climate services personnel, and will be appropriate for a university curriculum as well as professional development
  • Liaise with other national meteorological and hydrological service focus areas to enhance training materials in the context of other existing
  • Advise on implementation of the competencies, collecting and sharing information about verification and acknowledgment of competencies (such as a Seal of Approval or Chartered meteorologists/climatologists)
  • Increase accessibility and facilitate the choice of existing training materials in cooperation with national training centres, the COMET Programme, EUMETCAL, Copernicus Training, etc., and through the Climate Services Toolkit and WMO Global Campus mechanisms
  • Investigate existing mentoring options for climatologists and advise on the potential development of a WMO mentoring programme

For nearly 20 years, CCl capacity development workshops have developed competency in creating and managing climate datasets and deriving climate products from them in all WMO Regions. Such activities will benefit from the implementation of the competency framework as well as from the WMO Global Campus initiative (see The WMO Global Campus: An update and proposal for the future, on page 65). The WMO Global Campus, which aims to help education and training institutions to work together more collaboratively, would benefit climate services training by building a community of practice that continually shares expertise and experience, and by enhancing access to existing training opportunities while also stimulating new ones, multiplying the effectiveness of institutions through their increased connectedness.

As a vision for the next decade, capacity development of human resources for the provision of climate services should include:

  1. Encouraging new institutions to engage in the WMO Global Campus initiative. There are many institutions which offer specific training in climate services. Further collaboration and increased visibility will help both providers and users.
  2. Supporting and further developing successful ideas by adapting them or replicating them in different languages, such as the Climate Services Tool Kit, the Météo-France Course on Climate Services or the CCl workshops.
  3. Using the WMO Global Campus to promote and disseminate training approaches that can increase the reach of training. In addition to blended-learning and distance learning, use of the WMOLearn Resource Catalogue to make course materials available would be of enormous help. It can especially aid in the compilation of training resources in WMO and local languages.
  4. Implementation of competency management for the recognition of education and training achievements in climate service areas. This can take the form of a badging system or designated learning paths resulting in transcripts with equivalences to a credits system (e.g. European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)), and could be standardized through WMO Global Campus involvement.
  5. As education and training needs in the field of climate services are maturing, the WMO community should network to foster and monitor the creation of higher education programmes adapted to WMO Competencies for the Provision of Climate Services and following the BIP-CS, when it becomes available.
  6. Seeking further human and economic resources specifically dedicated to training and the WMO Global Campus initiative.


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