Weather, Climate, Water – The First 70 Years of WMO

WMO celebrates its 70th Anniversary in 2020. Activities to mark the Organization milestone anniversary start on 23 March – the date the WMO Convention came into force in 1950. One year later, WMO became a United Nations specialized agency and, today, WMO Member States and Territories number 193. But the history of international cooperation in meteorology dates back much earlier than 1950. The International Meteorological Organization (IMO), the predecessor of WMO, originates from the 1873 Vienna International Meteorological Congress decision to draft the rules and statutes of an international meteorological organization to facilitate the exchange of weather information across national borders. The 150th anniversary of that event will be celebrated with due pomp in 2023.

On 23 March, World Meteorological Day and World Water Day will be celebrated together for the first time. The Climate and Water theme is reflected in the slogan for the celebration: Count Every Drop, Every Drop Counts. More information, as well as outreach materials, are available online at We invite the WMO Community to make use of all the website and materials in their celebrations.

This issue of the WMO Bulletin on Climate and Water theme, underlines the importance of including water in climate policy discussions. The Geneva Water Hub, a Swiss initiative that promotes sound water management as an instrument for peace and a key WMO Hydrohub partner, highlights the evidence that water shortages have the potential to lead to political and social unrest. Water data is the basis of good water resource management and multi-hazard early warnings for water-related extreme events. Articles on WMO initiatives and projects –from HydroSOS, WMO Space-based observations, Flash Flood Guidance System to projects in Africa and the Americas – demonstrate the role of the Earth System Approach in addressing today’s global challenges.

To mark its 70th anniversary, WMO will be holding an exhibit of National Geographic photos from its World’s Water Towers and Highest Weather/Climate Stations series. The Weather, Climate, Water exhibit will run for 70 days until the WMO Executive Council, which has been postponed to autumn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In parallel, the WMO Chronology of Weather Science online museum will run a social media slide show campaign. Readers are invited to join us on WMO social media channels to fly through the history of weather research on the traces of the people and institutions that have supported the progress of Earth System Science. The experts will accompany you from the beginnings of weather research in the early 20th Century to the advent of the first electronic computers and satellites then onward to the super computers that have revolutionized numerical weather prediction.

In addition, a series of special 70th anniversary publications are being produced in 2020 with inputs from leading scientists and experts around the globe. These publications are designed to be both retrospective and forward-looking. They will reflect on both the important historic milestones of the Organization, including its contributions to meteorology around the world, as well as anticipated transformations and innovations as we enter a new decade and beyond. In Origin, Impact and Aftermath of WMO Resolution 40, the first in the series released in January, former WMO President (1995–2003) John W. Zillman shares his rich memories of that crucial period of WMO history. Interestingly, the Eighteenth Session of the World Meteorological Congress in June 2019, established a task to review WMO data policies and practices, including those of Resolution 40, and called for WMO to convene a global Data Conference in 2020. In view of these developments, the historical review of the WMO data policies is timely and useful.

WMO has facilitated seventy-years of progress in weather, climate and water. The work of the WMO community has impacted the lives of countless millions at home, work and play. Building on the success of its first seventy years, WMO and its partners in all sectors will continue to work together to secure a better future for mankind and our planet.


Petteri Taalas
World Meteorological Organization



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