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Press Release No. 773

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WMO opens International Conference for enhancing socio-economic benefits of weather, climate and water services

MADRID/GENEVA: 19 MARCH 2007 (WMO) – With the underlying aim of improving weather, climate and water services around the world, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today opened its four-day International Conference: “Secure and Sustainable Living: Social and Economic Benefits of Weather, Climate and Water Services” in Madrid, Spain.

Hundreds of experts from all areas of society will be participating in the event which has been organized under the Gracious Patronage of Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain with the support of the Ministry of Environment of Spain, through the National Meteorological Institute.

Mrs Christina Narbona Ruiz, Spain’s Minister of Environment said: “We are extremely proud to be hosting this Conference; it comes at a time when worldwide concern is at a historical high over weather-, climate- and water-related issues – some of which have been affecting Spain for many years.”

“It’s vital that our experience in addressing these issues be shared with all countries and that we in turn can learn from and apply the expertise of others.”

Every day weather-, climate- and water-sensitive decisions influence the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Extreme hydrometeorological events, which account for 90% of all natural disasters, have led in recent years to catastrophes with devastating consequences.

WMO Secretary-General, Mr Michel Jarraud said: “Droughts, floods, tropical cyclones, severe storms, cold and hot spells can cause loss of life and property, famine, mass migration, disease, pollution and environmental degradation, as well other far-reaching threats and disasters.”

“However, appropriate weather, climate and water services can help societies prevent, or reduce substantially, much of the death toll and destruction.”

“These services can also assist us in the adaptation to climate change and in improving our use of clean energy and fresh water resources, managing and protecting our natural ecosystems, developing sustainable agricultural practices, increasing food security and reducing some of the risks affecting recreation and tourism, transportation and other important sectors.”

The Conference provides a unique forum for dialogue among the producers and end-users of weather-, climate- and water-related information and an opportunity for National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) to learn more about how their products and services are appraised and used and what improvements might be made.

Another aim is for users, especially decision-makers, to better understand the current capabilities and limitations of NMHSs.

Mr Alexander Bedritskiy, President of WMO, stressed: “It’s clear that NMHSs in many countries are cripplingly underfunded and lack political influence at the highest level.”

“This Conference can address these challenges by increasing the overall understanding of how all sectors of society are dependent on weather-, climate- and water-related services while laying the groundwork for their modernization and development.”

Expected Conference outcomes include:

  • A review and synthesis of the way everyday social and economic decisions are influenced by weather, climate and water information and of the benefits that this information actually provides to society and to socio-economic development.
  • An examination of the decision-making process and a set of recommendations on how the information providers might need to adapt to the needs of decision-makers.
  • A comprehensive publication on the global social and economic benefits of meteorological and related information, including case studies, best practices and useful recommendations.

The International Steering Committtee for the Conference is co-chaired by Dr John Zillman, former President of WMO, and Dr Mohamed Mhita, Permanent Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania to WMO.

The Governments of Finland, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America have co-sponsored the event.

EUMETSAT, the European Commission, the World Bank, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and several commercial sponsors have also provided important support.

WMO is the United Nations’ authoritative voice on weather, climate and water
For more information please contact:
Ms Carine Richard-Van Maele, Chief, Communications and Public Affairs, WMO.
Tel: +41 (0)22 730 83 15.
Mr Mark Oliver, Press Officer, Communications and Public Affairs Office, World Meteorological Organization. Tel: +41 (0)22 730 84 17

Ms Lourdes Lazaro, Media Adviser, Environment Ministry of Spain.
Tel: +34 91 597 57 46
Mr Angel Rivera, Head of Communications, National Institute of Meteorology,
Environment Ministry of Spain. Tel: +34 91 581 98 77

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