Highlights of opening day of the 16th World Meteorological Congress (16 May – 3 June 2011)
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High-level segment voices support for proposed Global Framework on Climate Services
16 May 2011 (WMO). Climate services save countless lives and livelihoods every day, but often do not reach countries and communities which are most vulnerable to climate change. The international community needs to go the “last mile” and make a minimal commitment of US$75 million per year to unleash the full potential of billions of dollars already invested and spread the benefits around the world, the World Meteorological Congress heard today.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bangladesh Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina, and Ministers who addressed a High-level segment of WMO’s quadrennial meeting were united in their calls for Congress to endorse the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) during its three-week session which will set WMO priorities and budget.
“Greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating. Climate change is altering the geopolitical landscape and threatens economies around the world,” Mr Ban Ki-moon stated in a special message . “The World Meteorological Organization and its network of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in 189 countries are critical to meeting the climate challenge. The Global Framework for Climate Services, established by the Third World Climate Conference, is also vital. We must work together to assist the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt to the inevitable impacts.”
The proposed Framework would effectively close the gaps in the provision of existing information and services and would make them available to around 70 developing countries which have little or no such climate information. It would provide tailor-made information systems which are accurate, reliable and relevant.
“We need to get climate predictions and services to those who need them most. We need to go the last mile,” said Mr Jan Egeland, co-chairman of a High-level Taskforce which proposed the establishment of the Framework. Mr Egeland and co-chairman Mr Mahmoud Abu Zeid presented their report to a high-level segment at the WMO’s Congress which is due to discuss the proposed Framework as one of its priorities.
The Taskforce report said priority would be given to capacity building in Least Developed Countries. The Framework should strengthen and consolidate, not duplicate.
“Many of those in science who know a lot of what climate variability and change will bring do not really know what the needs are of the users in sectors like health, water, agriculture and disaster risk reduction. The users do not know what is available,” said Mr Egeland. “We need to connect the two better.”
More than US $72 million of the annual target investment in the Framework would be allocated to programmes in developing countries, with just US $3 million on administrative structures. Billions of dollars have been invested in science in satellites, in global prediction models, in super computer models. “We need that last mile of investment to reach the most vulnerable of societies,” said Mr Egeland.
Swiss President Ms Micheline Calmy-Rey said the Framework “would make it possible for the poorest countries to benefit from modern climate services and obtain assistance from others. “
Bangladesh: Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina
“The implementation of the GFCS would be a significant step to our collective efforts in combating the impacts of climate change. It would be an essential first step in improving our ability to predict climate, and to help users incorporate the information into their decision making.”
“Vital is adequate allocation of funds for capacity building in vulnerable countries. Industrialized countries with historic responsibility for climate change challenges, must generouslyl invest funds for adaptation and for easy access of green technology at an affordable price, to vulnerable countries.
Today, climate change poses a serious challenge to human existence. Among the frontline countries confronted by the impacts of climate change, stands Bangladesh. For several decades we have been experiencing the gradual increase, frequency and erratic pattern of floods, river erosion, cyclones, earthquake murmurs, tidal bores, encroachment of salinity in the low lying coastal areas due to sea rise, and desertification,” Sheikh Hasina said. These natural disasters have been threatening our food, water and health security, biodiversity, ecological balance, as well as diminishing livelihood options and income levels.”
India: Minister for Earth Sciences H.E. Pawan Kumar Bansal
“India is prepared to contribute towards the establishment of this important Framework through the strengthening of its infrastructure in the region. Substantive enhancements have been achieved through enhancement of state-of-art observing systems through comprehensive modernization program of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of the country.
Having noted the four key areas of disaster management, water resources, agriculture and health in which GFCS is urgently required to act, we offer to share our experience and expertise with other States through this Framework as a manifestation of our commitment to GFCS. India supports the establishment of an Intergovernmental Board for Climate Services. India pledges to support GFCS Secretariat with a grant of US$ 125,000.”
Kenya: Minister for Environment and Mineral Resources H.E. Mr John Njoroge Michuki
“The consequences of climate change are having an impact on the livelihoods, ecosystems and infrastructure of the world, including public health, transport, agriculture, environment, water and other sectors. There is a pressing need to take action in addressing climate change impact in Africa. It will not be politically possible to advance adaptation, a short-term measure without hope for the future.
Kenya is experiencing disasters related to severe weather and is taking the following steps: enhancing the early warning for disasters, with a budget increase for infrastructure for data collection, communication, product exchange, processing and dissemination. Training is also being increased. We support the GFCS preparations, and the five principles of the Hyogo Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.“
Mali: Minister of Equipment and Transport H.E. Mr Hamed Diané Semega
Since the drought of the 1970s Mali has put in place a programme to help the farmers of Mali integrate climate risk, working with farmers and agricultural services directly, supported by a communication plan. The information has been used at the highest level to make decisions related to food security. It has had positive impact, including an average improvement of the harvest of 25%, better management of natural disasters, better understanding of the meteorological needs of rural areas, technology transfer to rural areas, better visibility for the National Meteorological Service, inclusion of climate services in the national poverty reduction strategy, and other benefits.
But scientific and technical progress could benefit developing countries even more, especially in Africa. To bridge the gap it is essential to reinforce capacity of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to produce and use appropriate climate services. It is for this reason that we support the establishment of the GFCS and hope that this Congress will allow us to make significant progress in putting the GFCS into practice.
United Republic of Tanzania: Minister of Transport H.E. Mr Omar Nundu
“WMO has played key role in many important issues. It should use this experience and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that will arise not only from technological and scientific developments but also from relevant social, economic and political developments.
In addressing global challenges, emphasis should be to assist developing countries to enable them to keep abreast with evolving scientific and technological developments. Specific areas of assistance include training, ICT, data code format, space science and telecommunications. Most Least Developing Countries (LDCs) cannot afford to acquire or maintain such expensive equipment like radars, upper airspace instruments and consumables. There is need for concerted efforts to enhance awareness campaigns to the leaders and community for ensuring that the benefits of weather and climate services are clearly demonstrated and known. The LDC Programme should be strengthened as well as other Programmes (World Weather Watch, Training and Research, Disaster, Climate).”
Ethiopia: State Minister, Ministry of Water and Energy H.E. Mr Kebede Gerba
“One of the most daunting environmental challenges for Ethiopia is drought. In order to address this challenge locally, the services of the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia are quite useful. Recently, with the support of WMO, the Ethiopian government is providing new agricultural meteorology services that address the need of rural farmers at grass root level. Thousands of plastic rain guages have been produced and distributed to farmers. The information gained from these gauges and subsequent advice from the nearest meteorological observers and agricultural extension workers is believed to increase the productivity of the farming community.
The National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia is contributing tangible support to the development of Ethiopia. Especially NMA’s sector specific services are worth mentioning. The joint and integrated effort of Ministry of Health and Climate Services are the best example. It supported the surveillance and monitoring of Malaria. It also provides hydro meteorological services which supports the water and energy sector in administering big dams.
Lesotho: Minister of Natural Resources H.E. Mr Monyane Moleleki
Previous drought contrasted with the past six months of being “pelted with rain” which caused land degradation, massive mudslides and rock slides and rockfalls. “Our road network also suffered severe damage. Bridges were knocked down and washed away. This damage has run into tens of millions of US dollars. The challenges we face are indeed increasing. At the same time expectations and aspirations for a better life continue to rise. These challenges demand an urgent response that should be guided by a sound and objective science. We are looking to WMO to provide the necessary leadership.”
Sudan: Minister of Environment H.E. Mrs Fadwa Showay Ding
“Sudan has witnessed many disasters related to climate change which have increased over the past three decades. Our country has witnessed many floods and sandstorms as well as desertification which leads to losses in lives, properties and water scarcities in many parts of our country. Our main priority is to achieve preparedness. To mitigate impact of climate change through early forecasts we hope it will be a sound basis for countering climate change by supporting abilities and technical staff.”
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