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23 May 2013



Climate Services for Managing Disaster Risk

The need for climate services to reduce disaster risk and promote sustainable development was emphasized by top World Meteorological Organization officials throughout the 4th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Disaster risk reduction is one of the top priorities of the Global Framework for Climate Services now being implemented by governments with support from WMO and its partners. This global initiative aims to increase and improve climate services to help communities and countries, especially the most vulnerable, adapt to climate variability and change.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud emphasized the need for user-friendly climate services at an event organized by the Government of Norway 20 May.

“The emergence of climate prediction provides opportunities to increase the lead times of early warnings. Historical data has traditionally been used for analysis of hazards patterns but past information is no longer sufficient, because hazard characteristics are changing as a result of climate change,” said Mr Jarraud. He said scientifically-based climate services were therefore essential to assess risks associated with the changing patterns and characteristics of hazards  to inform decisions on, for instance, construction of dams and dykes.

It was a message he repeated during one of the informal plenary sessions he co-chaired with Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, focusing on how to follow on from the current Hyogo Framework for Action for the Post 2015 Framework in Disaster Risk Reduction.

“We need to connect climate information with disaster reduction,” said Mr Jarraud. “We need to work across disciplines, countries, organizations. It’s a huge challenge but it’s not a hopeless challenge,” he said.

WMO organized a side event with a number of its partners, entitled, Benefits of Climate Services for Managing Disaster Risk for Sustainable Growth.

The session included experts from agricultural, health and water resource management, development sectors and representatives from the regional and national meteorological and climate centers and services.

The session recommended that development and sustainability of climate services would require critical investment and capacity building in national meteorological and climate systems and services. 

Strengthening of global, regional and national partnerships and coordination between the meteorological, climate and hydrological and the disaster risk reduction communities and sectors are critical to the development of science-based information to enable community action, build disaster and climate resilience, leverage resources, sustainability and manage risks associated with trans-boundary and larger scales hazards.

Key recommendations

  • The session recommended that this can be achieved through investments in the new global partnership under the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) and continued improvements observing networks, technologies for climate forecasts and climate change scenarios and development, availability and accessibility of climate services in user-friendly formats targeted at different sectors, at different levels (global, regional, national, local) providing unprecedented opportunity to build disaster and climate resilience.

  • As regards the HFAII consultation process, experts suggested that climate services were an essential component of more integrated multi-sectoral, multi-hazard, multi-level approach to disaster risk reduction as an integral part of national development and resilience building.

  • Advancement in climate forecasting technologies provides unprecedented opportunities to understand and quantify hydro-meteorological hazards in a changing climate.  This information informs planning and development decisions with longer time scales to reduce impacts of disasters through early warning systems, sectoral planning and risk management and financing and risk transfer

  • The implementation of the HFA by national governments is leading to amendments and/or development of new national DRR policies as well as legal and institutional frameworks. HFA2 should highlight the importance of anchoring roles, working arrangements and strengthening of technical agencies such as the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the amended and/or new policies and legal frameworks.
  • Effective coordination and leveraging of government investments and risk financing strategies with international humanitarian, development, climate-related funding in areas such as institutional and infrastructure capacities, hazard/risk and climate information systems are critical to avoid duplication, address gaps and ensure sustainability.
  • Investments in development and strengthening of national early warning systems should be considered as an integral part of national risk reduction and resilience-building planning with a multi-hazard, multi-sectoral and multi-level approach.  Investments in these systems should reflect long-term sustainability.  In this regard, investment in the national meteorological systems and networks, particularly in developing and least developed countries, would lead to very large benefits.

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