Importance of the Ocean highlighted in Regional Association Sessions

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021 to 2030 launched at the beginning of 2021 and WMO has since been actively highlighting the role of the ocean in the Earth System and in its activities at side-events in its Regional Associations (RA) sessions. Better ocean observations, science and services are essential to protect lives at sea, in coastal areas and in-land. WMO Members 24/7 ocean activities are ever more important in view of the increasing impact of climate change. Ocean side events – tailored to regional concerns – were most recently held in September in the RA V (South-West Pacific) session at the beginning of the month and the RA II (Asia) session at its end.

Regional Association V

The South-West Pacific region experiences diverse ocean conditions as it includes tropical, temperate and polar zones. These variations require innovative thinking to the sustainably provide ocean observations and services for the benefit of lives and livelihoods of people in the region and around the world. Thus, the RA V side-event attracted over 150 participants from the “Oceania” region.

The keynote speaker, Prof. Diorite Karnawati, the Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the WMO, set the tone by providing the basis for regional cooperation efforts. She underlined the complexity, uncertainty and the rapidly changing weather and climate conditions as well as the region’s vulnerability to disasters such as tropical cyclones and tsunamis. But her speech also offered hope: the challenges could be overcome through research and innovation, capacity development across the science to services value chain, and the strengthening of multi-hazard early warning system (MHEWS). These would be a basis for emerging cooperation efforts.

The participants then went on to identify five priority areas for the region:

  • Maritime Safety Services
  • Coastal MHEWS
  • Research in the polar ocean
  • Capacity development
  • Tsunami and Weather Ready Nation synergies

The side-event started the conversation. The next steps will be the development of a clear vision and roadmap to address priority ocean actions for the South-West Pacific in the upcoming Decade.

Regional Association II

The keynote speaker for the RA II side-event was Dr T. Srinivasa Kumar, Director of Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO and Co-Chair of the WMO-IOC Collaborative Board (JCB). He stressed the importance of regional cooperation to bolster ocean observing and prediction systems as well as the need to develop the capacity of national agencies. Moreover, the highlighted the Earth system approach adopted by INCOIS for its services. Calling for further regional collaboration, especially taking advantage of the WMO and IOC regional activities, Dr Kumar concluded with a message that the impact of ocean services had been measured and quantified to bring economic and social benefits to the whole Indian and regional community.

The ensuing panel discussion identified four key regional ocean priorities:
  • Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) Marine Products – Research & Development
  • Maritime Safety
  • Ocean Early Warning Services
  • Coastal Hazards: Strengthening Capacity & Awareness

Pursuant to these priorities, RA II will move forward with the following suggestions:

  • Promote more dialogue and coordination at the regional and national levels and take advantage of existing WMO-IOC Collaborative mechanisms
  • Promote innovation in technology and research to operations for information dissemination, ocean prediction systems and services
  • Highlight weather-water-climate linkages – especially for enhanced climate services
  • Enhance coupled ocean-weather forecasting
  • Strengthen:
    • MHEWS and Impact-Based Forecasting
    • Integrate ocean observation and open data exchange (WMO data policy and link to IOC-IODE), especially in coastal areas
    • Capacity development ranging from NMHS staff to users of forecasts
    • Reaching the “Last mile” for early warnings of coastal inundation including from both cyclones and tsunamis
    • Partnerships, including with agencies beyond met services (e.g. oceanographic)
    • Joint research activities
    • Full value chain with guidance from the WMO-IOC JCB
  • Further identify regional ocean priorities and consider developing an RA II Ocean Roadmap.
WMO plays a significant role in supporting Members to protect lives, livelihoods and property from the dangers of climate and weather driven marine and coastal hazards, for people along the coast and at sea.
Ocean side events have been carried out in other regional sessions, and work is underway to focus on the identified regional priorities.

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