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28 August 2013

 

Climate Services Road Map for South Africa

About 150 stakeholders attended a successful workshop in Pretoria, South Africa, to elaborate a Road Map for the implementation of a Framework for Climate Services in the country and future needs and opportunities for user-driven services such as seasonal climate outlooks; drought and flood monitoring and warning services; and heat-health alerts.

The workshop was organized by South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs and the South African Weather Service in conjunction with the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) Office and the World Meteorological Organization. It brought together representatives from the environment, water resources, agriculture and forestry, marine, health, energy and disaster management sectors which are climate sensitive and need scientifically-based information and data to adapt to climate variability and change. Universities and research institutions also attended the 19-22 August event. (link to programme)

The outcomes of the workshop are expected to support the integrated delivery and uptake of climate services within the ambit of the National Climate Change Response Policy, which sets out South Africa’s vision for an effective climate change response and long-term transition to a climate-resilient and lower-carbon economy.

The GFCS speaks to the core of service delivery of weather services around the globe, said Hon. Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Deputy Minister, Water and Environment Affairs of South Africa. She said it would provide a useful basis for coordination of climate services to support South Africa’s disaster risk reduction and emergency response work. (link to speech)

"With the evident increase in the variability of the weather and climate, South Africa finds itself in a position where it must not only adapt to more severe weather and climate conditions, but also be prepared in terms of potential weather and climate-related disasters," said Ms Mabudafhasi.

"We need improved meteorological data and science that firstly enables: early warning systems, secondly enables planning for emergency response; and thirdly provides the information base that enables the prediction of slow onset events. This is the arena for discussions on the operationalisation of the Global Framework for Climate Services," said Ms Mabudafhasi.

Discussions at the three-day event focused on mapping needs, challenges and opportunities, as well as gaps in the provision of climate services. Pre-requisites for a successful national plan include:

  • provide a strong institutional anchorage to meet the needs for tailored climate services and to connect providers with users from agriculture, water, disaster management, health, transport and construction sectors;
  • Build the capacity of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Service and other technical agencies to produce salient climate services, and of the user community to maximize the use and benefit of these services;
  • Enhance national hydro-meteorological observing and information networks;
  • Strengthen collaborative, user-driven climate research;
  • Diversify and improve communication channels to ensure climate services reach the widest possible number of users;
  • Engage all stakeholders and ensure regular dialogue between users and producers of climate services.

"In order to improve the production, distribution and use of relevant and up-to-date climate services, we need an organized system which pools expertise and resources though institutional coordination and cooperation as well as partnerships from the national to the global levels," said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Jerry Lengoasa.

The South African workshop was one of a number of national and regional initiatives being held as part of the rollout of the GFCS. This is an ambitious international drive to provide accurate and accessible climate services to users all over the world, with an initial focus on the agriculture, water, health and disaster sectors., and with special priority being given to the most vulnerable.

The establishment of the GFCS was unanimously approved by the World Meteorological Congress in 2011. Since then, many governments and their agencies have made significant progress in developing national climate service action plans. There is also growing international momentum, thanks to the active involvement of UN agencies, the World Bank, many other development agencies, international organizations and the international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, which are factoring in climate services into sectoral and development work. Contributions and pledges to the GFCS total about 30 million Swiss francs to date, and are growing.

South Africa is playing a prominent roll in driving forward the GFCS. Linda Makuleni, Chief Executive Officer of the South African Weather Services, is co-Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Board on Climate Services, along with Laxman Singh Rathore, Director-General of the India Meteorological Department. Chair of the Board is Norwegian Meteorological Institute Director-General Anton Eliassen.

 

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