The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) held its first Funders Forum on 24 March. The event underscored the rise in support for the Facility, with declarations from leaders of the United Nations and development and climate finance agencies in the Alliance for Hydromet Development, as well as beneficiary countries and the meteorological community. The creation of SOFF is a commitment and priority of the Alliance for Hydromet Development, which is a coalition of major climate and development finance institutions.
SOFF will provide grants and technical assistance to countries with the largest capacity gaps for the long-term generation and international exchange of basic surface-based weather and climate observations. Such observations are critical for the improved weather forecasts and climate services needed to boost resilience to more extreme weather and to adapt to climate change impacts.
As a priority, SOFF will support Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, which face the most serious shortfalls in observations. This will bring benefits to the rest of the globe. Investments to close gaps in data-sparse regions will have disproportionately high returns, with potential returns of 1:25.
“The network of surface-based observations today is not sufficiently advanced, especially in developing countries. And yet, observations in these areas of the world are most precious and are well worth investing in,” stated Dr Florence Rabier, Director General of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). ECMWF estimates that an investment in the observing system in French Polynesia would offer benefits up to 50 times greater than investing in France.
Science and data are at the heart of the fight against climate change,” said Dr Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. “Better data means better forecasts and stronger Early Warning Systems. For the IMF, better weather data will underpin our work to boost economic growth and financial stability across our membership as we scale up our work on climate change. In the new climate economy, weather data is economic data and sharing this information is absolutely vital,” she said in a video message.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji said that SOFF would save lives in vulnerable countries and support disaster readiness and disaster resilience through more advanced early warning systems. “We are calling on our development partners to back this facility. The benefits of the data it collects and the work it supports extend well beyond the Pacific. It supports a greater global campaign to build a more resilient world,” he said in a video message.
The virtual event was attended by more than 130 participants from 50 countries and institutions. It was chaired by Johannes Linn in his capacity as SOFF Global Facilitator. Subsequent Funders’ Forums are planned for early July and mid-October 2021. The launch of SOFF is planned for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021.