The World Meteorological Congress, held on 3–14 June, approved a package of sweeping reforms to deliver a smart, agile and responsive WMO, fit for the 21st Century.
The reform overhauls WMO's governance structure and ensures that the Organization is better equipped to tackle mounting challenges such as climate change, extreme weather, environmental degradation and urbanization, while harnessing technological advances from satellites, supercomputing and big data.
“The World Meteorological Organization is needed more than ever,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Demands on the expertise of WMO and national meteorological and hydrological services have never been higher. The socio-economic impact of weather, climate and water-related hazards is rising because of environmental degradation, urbanization and, above all, climate change.
The reform enables WMO to embrace a more comprehensive Earth system approach, with a stronger focus on water resources and the ocean, more coordinated climate activities and a more concerted effort to translate science into services for society. It seeks to narrow the growing capacity gap between rich and poor, and to channel more resources to WMO regional operations. Likewise, it paves the way for greater engagement with the rapidly growing private sector and more structured collaboration with development agencies.
The reform means that the Organization’s eight technical commissions will be replaced by two commissions and a Research Board in order to better coordinate and streamline work and maximize impact. The new Commission for Observation, Infrastructure and Information Systems (Infrastructure Commission), and the Commission for Weather, Climate, Water and Related Environmental Services and Applications (Applications Commission) will each have standing committees for normative work and study groups created for exploratory work or expert teams.
The reform also creates a streamlined working structure of the Executive Council, now supported by a Technical Coordination Committee, a Policy Advisory Committee and an independent Science Advisory Panel, as well as several panels of experts to coordinate climate, hydrological and capacity development activities.
Inter-agency coordination mechanisms will also be established to enhance collaboration and interaction with key partners such as UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Food Programme, UN Water and many more.
The Constituent Body Reform Task Force established in 2018 will enable a smooth transition, and guide and monitor the implementation of the reform.