In recent years, climate variability and change have had a global impact and a great number of States from around the world participated in COP 21 (Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention held in Paris, France between 30 November and 15 December 2016), the agreements reached there are the proof of the relevance of this issue.
In this context, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas through a document dated on 29 August 2016, informed to all Directors of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) that WMO was going to have an active participation in COP 22 (Marrakesh, Morocco 7-18 November 2016) in particular in United Nations system and other side events. The Organization would take a lead in the event entitled “Science-based climate information” and would showcase the role of WMO and its Members' NMHSs contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Professor Taalas explained that the 68th session of WMO Executive Council recognized that it was indispensable to work at a local level to fully integrate NMHSs as fundamental actors in the application of COP 21 agreements, especially in adaptation, mitigation and cataloging extreme events. He also encouraged NMHSs to collaborate in National Adaptation Plans, greenhouse gas monitoring systems and other observation systems. The document included a copy of “WMO Key Messages at COP 22”. But most importantly, he encouraged NMHS Directors to participate as members of their national delegations to strengthen the role of NMHSs as contributors to the UNFCCC process.
In a second document dated on 4 October 2016, the Secretary-General informed NMHSs that the Organization would also coordinate a one-day event entitled “Earth Info – Linking Earth Observations with the Global Response to Climate Change” and specific events related to hydrology and to mitigation and adaptation options as well as eight other side-events. This document had an Annex entitle “The role of NMHSs in Implementation of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)”. Again, the Secretary-General encouraged Directors to participate in COP 22 to reinforce role of NMHSs on UNFCCC participants.
Therefore, as Director of the Chilean Meteorological Service (Dirección Meteorológica de Chile) and as a Permanent Representative with WMO, I took proper actions to participate in COP 22 following Secretary-General’s recommendations. In the lines that follow, I describe the most relevant aspects of my attendance in COP 22.
Before my participation in COP 22, I attended to a meeting organized by the Chilean authorities responsible for Climate Change where they exposed the government's views and the political positions related to COP 22. This was a very interesting opportunity to interact with representatives from different State Departments – Interior, Foreign affairs, Agricultural, Energy, Environment, Transport, etc. – and to be aware of the different approaches on the subject. In particular, it offered a good framework to explain the important role of WMO and the Meteorological Service in relation to climate change matters. The outcome was recognition that the participation of the Meteorological Service in COPs is needed and that it should be part of COP-related activities henceforth.
During COP 22, I had the chance to participate in various meetings and activities. Below are some highlights:
- A coordination meeting organized by the head of the Chilean delegation, Ambassador Waldemar Coutts, gave the delegation final orientations to ensure the interests of the Chilean government. I used that occasion to explain my role as Permanent Representative with WMO. My responsibility was to support WMO activities.
- I had a meeting with WMO Deputy Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova where I explained my responsibility within the Chilean delegation and I expressed my intention to support WMO in order to reach its COP 22 objectives. Ms. Manaenkova explained WMO COP 22 priorities and gave me a concrete guide on how I could help. Following that, I had the opportunity to meet up WMO team and we discussed details related to my assistance and the COP 22 agenda.
These two meetings gave me the perspective I needed to make a successful use of my time and support both the Chilean government and WMO objectives as per the guidelines received:
- In a later meeting with the WMO Secretary-General, we discussed my experience as Director of the Chilean Meteorological Service and my perception of the value of my participation in COP 22. Mr. Taalas had been informed about my activities and the support given to WMO objectives. He expressed appreciation of that.
- My participation in the conferences and side-events at COP 22h gave me a better understanding of different aspects related to climate change and its impacts. I saw ways to improve the work we do in the Meteorological Service and to support actively both Chilean government policies and WMO initiatives with a worldwide impact.
Finally, as Directors of NMHSs we must remember that we are responsible to implement WMO guidelines on climate change. I encourage you to make efforts to organize regional and local climate activities and to take action to participate in COP 23, which will be held in Bonn, Germany, from 6 to 17 November 2017.
Let's work together to give the next generation a sustainable world to live in!