Extraordinary World Meteorological Congress endorses Data, Observations and Water Initiatives

The Extraordinary World Meteorological Congress from 11–22 October approved three sweeping initiatives to dramatically strengthen the world’s weather and climate services through a systematic increase in much-needed observational data and products from around the globe. The Congress also endorsed a Water Declaration, including the Water and Climate Coalition, and a new vision and strategy for hydrology with an associated plan of action. The resolutions reflect the top priority given to water at WMO in the face of growing water stress and water-related hazards, coupled with inadequate and fragmented capacity to meet the challenges.

The WMO Unified Data Policy, the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON), and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) were developed through extensive consultation with thousands of experts and other stakeholders around the globe to meet the explosive growth in demand for weather and climate data products and services from all sectors of society. The WMO Unified Data Policy will implement an integrated Earth system data policy with clear commitment to free and unrestricted data exchange. It aims to acommodate the growing demand for weather, climate and water monitoring and prediction data to support essential services needed by all sectors of society, as they face issues such as climate change, increasing frequency and impact of extreme weather, and implications for food security.

GBON represents a new approach in the design of the basic surface-based observing network needed to feed Numerical Weather Prediction models with input data. Once fully implemented, GBON will significantly increase the availability of the most essential surface-based data. This will have a direct positive impact on the quality of weather forecasts and information that will help to improve global public safety and well-being. In order to reach this goal, additional investment and capacity development will be needed for many developing countries. WMO is working closely with the international development and climate finance communities to facilitate this. Closing the GBON gap is highly economically efficient. According to an analysis undertaken jointly by the World Bank, WMO and the Met Office (UK), for every dollar invested at least twenty-six dollars in socio-economic return could be realized.

SOFF is a dedicated mechanism that will provide long-term grants and technical assistance, with a focus on Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries to enable sustained compliance with GBON regulations. SOFF will (i) deploy a global approach with sustained international data exchange as a measure of success; (ii) provide long-term finance toward sustained data sharing results; (iii) enhance technical competency through peer-to-peer advisory, harnessing the operational experience of the most advanced national meteorological services around the globe; and (iv) leverage partners’ knowledge and resources. It will focus exclusively on the initial part of the meteorological value chain, which is the foundation for effective climate and resilient development action. SOFF will work with partners that focus on other links in the chain to ensure that its investments translate into climate adaptation benefits.

Water and Hydrological Resolutions

More than half of the world’s population will be living under water stressed conditions by 2030. Climate change will further exacerbate these conditions and increase our vulnerability to water-related disasters. In view of the urgency of the situation, the Water Declaration sets the following aspirations:

  • That by 2030 early warnings for early action related to floods and droughts will be available for people everywhere on the planet to access
  • That policies for water and climate action developed within the sustainable development agenda be integrated to yield maximum benefit for our people
  • That we will pursue these goals through partnerships for capacity development, knowledge exchange and information sharing, formulating policies, institutional and legal/regulatory frameworks.

The Extraordinary Congress endorsed the Water and Climate Coalition “to promote the sharing and access to integrated hydrological, cryosphere, meteorological and climate information to plan and operate resilient and sustainable water resources systems at local, national, regional and river basin scales.” These resolutions aim to accelerate implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on Water.

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