A smart, agile and responsive WMO – fit for the 21st Century – coordinates across all areas and takes a holistic and inclusive weather, water and climate approach. The WMO Constituent Body Reform aim is to deliver a smart WMO. Its main goal is to align governance and working structures with the WMO Strategic Plan 2020-2030. This is key to improving preparedness for hydrometeorological extremes and mitigating disaster risks. Phenomena like flash floods and droughts require an Earth systems approach for both the observation and forecasting systems. Such an approach is essential to cover all timescales – from minutes to decades.
Since the last session of the World Meteorological Congress (Cg-17) in 2015, the WMO Executive Council (EC) has been developing the new governance structure, which follows the weather, climate, water value chain from data acquisition and processing to forecasting and prediction, and services to Members, without omitting the key role of research in all of these. The objective is to increase effectiveness and efficiency, as well as to better engage Members and experts, throughout.
The agility and responsiveness of the smart WMO will result from a biennial cycle of sessions for Technical Commissions and Congress. Ordinary sessions of Congress, with a full agenda including elections and reporting as required by WMO Convention every four years, will be complemented by extra-ordinary sessions in the median dedicated to special themes. This change will make it easier for Members to be engaged in WMO matters. The whole WMO community would meet every two years, thus, decisions could be made faster and implemented earlier.
Further changes aim to enhance the involvement of Members in the activities of WMO, to involve academic and private sector experts in non-governmental activities and to facilitate partnerships – all to raise the profile of NMHSs at the national and international level.
The current figures are clear:
- One third of Members does not at all participate in WMO activities
- One third participates only sporadically
- Ten Members fully participate across all areas
To increase meaningful participation by Members, a coordination mechanism will be established to involve the Regional Associations (RAs) in the work of Technical Commissions as well as other WMO bodies. The RA Presidents – as members of the new EC Technical Coordination Committee – will have a direct influence on the work program of the Technical Commissions.
The RAs will retain responsibility for the assessment of regional needs, requirements and priorities, however, RA Presidents through the Technical Coordination Committee can make sure these are reflected in the responsible Technical Commission’s deliverables. This will ensure that the Technical Commissions provide the regions with expertise, assistance, guidance, as well as technical solutions and standards, that they need. The RAs will also be responsible for the coordination of national and/or regional experts that are nominated to WMO expert teams.
Through such measures, the Reform aims to achieve regional and gender balance as well as to enhance the involvement of Members in WMO in general.
Two technical commissions
The Constituent Body Reform has only two Technical Commissions:
- Commission for Observation, Infrastructure and Information System
- Commission for Weather, Climate, Water and Related Environmental Services and Applications
Each Technical Commission will have Standing Committees for normative work and study groups created for exploratory work or expert teams. There will be a clear delineation between the intergovernmental work of Technical Commissions and that of the experts working in the committees and groups. The non-intergovernmental expert teams and study groups would be open to experts from the academia and private sector.
The standards developed in the Technical Regulations are expected to improve through a seamless Earth system 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. 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 Members.
The two proposed Technical Commissions will be complemented by the non-governmental Research Board as well as by expert panels for cross-cutting activities and activities with partners.
Other new bodies
Besides the new Technical Coordination Committee, EC has established a Policy Advisory Committee to offer counsel on any matters concerning the strategy and policy of the Organization. EC also proposes that Congress establishes an independent Science Advisory Panel and Research Board on Weather, Climate, Water and the Environment. These bodies will deliver a richness of expertise, culture and differing perspectives.
Inter-agency coordination mechanisms will also be established to enhance collaboration and interaction with key partners. These joint bodies will streamline WMO working arrangements, programmes and projects with entities such as UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Food Programme, UN Water and many more.
WMO is the co-custodian of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-13 on Climate Action; however most of the 17 SDGs are directly or indirectly impacted by weather, climate and water – Poverty, Hunger and Food Security, Health, Empowerment of Women, Water Resource Management, Energy, Industry and Infrastructure, Cities and Urban Development, Climate, and Life on Land and Sea. The SDGs stress the importance of partnerships and international cooperation for achieving the goals. The improvement of partnerships and cooperation are also the basis of the WMO Reform.
Better coordination through more synergistic partnerships will optimize the use of WMO resources and that of Members. The holistic Earth system approach of the WMO Reform will permit leading experts and researchers, as well as the private sector and academia to contribute to WMO activities. In addition, this approach is also expected to break the silos in the WMO Secretariat and close the capacity gaps between Members. NMHSs can look forward to a strengthening of their role in protecting life and property, and in building weather and climate resilience.
Reform Task Force
As always, the devil is in the detail. The Constituent Body Reform Task Force, established by EC-70 (2018), addresses the questions that remain before Congress in June in order to enable a smooth transition. Questions on how the new bodies will work together, the development of an initial timeline, the mapping of the workplans to the two-years cycle, engaging experts from developing and least developed countries, and, of course, questions about internal re-organization of the Secretariat are being resolved. The Task Force will continue its important task to guide and monitor the transition until EC-72 (2020) and ensure the implementation of the reform after Cg-18.
The more agile, smart and responsive 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 as well as emerging challenges. Thus, also the visibility Members and their contributions to the global agenda will be enhanced.