WMO for the 21st Century

In both 2018 and 2019, the World Economic Forum identified weather extremes, natural disasters, the failure of climate change adaptation and mitigation, and water crises as the highest and most probable four global risks for humanity. The socioeconomic consequences and costs related to the impacts of these extreme events continue to rise. Global mobilization – realized through a number of frameworks such as Sustainable Development Goals, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risks Reduction and the Paris Agreement – is needed to respond to these challenges. In this context, the relevance of the Global Weather, Water and Climate Enterprise is paramount to meet the demand for both fundamental and advanced Earth system information and services at all levels.

About 8 years ago, the Membership of WMO challenged its Executive Council to begin reforming its processes, procedures and structures. At our last Congress in 2015, Members requested a substantive review and recommendations for the modernization of all of its Constituent Bodies.  Considerable efforts have been undertaken since 2011 to have more focused and meaningful meetings of the Executive Council, Regional Associations and Technical Commissions as well as adopt a paperless approach by using modern information technology tools for communicating and reporting. The emphasis over the last four years has been to recommend governance structures that better align resources and capabilities with the strategic and operational planning directions of the Organization. 


Critical considerations in the reform proposals are framed around three key themes. The first is the importance of increasing the involvement and engagement of Members in WMO activities from Permanent Representatives and to experts. The second theme is better alignment of resources to deliver on the strategic objectives of the Organization.  While reducing costs is not the goal, capitalizing on the synergies for information systems infrastructures, research to operations and service delivery extends the use of existing resources. Finally, the last theme was to improve the overall performance of WMO and its Members by ensuring clear roles and responsibilities of each of the Constituent Bodies. 

The recommended way forward for WMO Constituent Bodies will improve effectiveness and efficiency, facilitate cooperation and partnerships, and provide the agility to uptake global challenges. It will enable WMO to deliver on long term goals for services that better serves societal needs, seamless predictions systems, advanced targeted research that is accelerated to application and closing capacity gaps in particular for developing Members.

The new WMO Strategic Plan envisions a world where all nations are more resilient to the socioeconomic consequences of extreme weather, climate, water and other environmental events and underpin their sustainable development with the best possible weather, climate, water and environmental services.  While the plan provides a framework of goals and enabling objectives to support this ambition, the proposed new governance will enable the design and implementation frameworks for the realization of this vision. This Bulletin will inform you on the proposals and their outcomes, the underlying factors and assumptions, and the implementation strategies to be presented for endorsement at the upcoming Congress in June this year as well as the potential benefits in the areas of Services, Systems, Science and Support of the Smart organization.

David Grimes                                                          Petteri Taalas
President of WMO                                                  WMO Secretary-General     

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