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Press Release No. 782

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WMO Secretary-General re-appointed: saving lives through disaster prevention and mitigation is a top priority

GENEVA 16 MAY 2007 (WMO) – The Fifteenth Congress of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today unanimously re-appointed by acclamation Mr Michel Jarraud as Secretary-General of the WMO for a second term of four years beginning in January 2008.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Jarraud stressed his determination to further strengthen the WMO as a model in management reform, transparency and communication within the United Nations system. He also voiced his determination to bring the Organization’s work closer to ordinary people, especially in developing countries, notably through better forecasting and early warning systems to save lives, as well as the development of applications in a wide range of socio-economic sectors.

The President of Regional Association (RA) I (Africa), Dr Mamadou L. Bah, congratulated Mr Jarraud on behalf of the 56 regional Members and assured him of the Region’s ultimate support in the objectives of WMO. Dr Bah also took the opportunity to express his gratitude to all donors and representatives of international organizations for their support to the region.

The President of RA II (Asia), Mr Abdul Majeed H. Isa, called Mr Jarraud’s re-appointment: “A culmination of efforts made over the past four years” and said that RA II would continue to benefit from his management of the Secretariat. He also added that in order to effectively implement WMO programmes it would be essential that National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of developing countries continue to benefit from the services of WMO. “We must continue to bridge the gap between the developing and developed countries,” he said.

On behalf of the President of RA III (South America), the Vice-President, Mr Costa Posada, expressed his “extreme satisfaction” at the re-appointment of Mr Jarraud and said that the Region was “very pleased with the way Mr Jarraud has managed the organization and with the way he has assisted our region.” He said that the manner in which Mr Jarraud had been re-appointed – with no opposition – was an indication of Members’ confidence.

The President of RA IV (North America, Central America and the Caribbean), Mr Carlos Fuller said his Region was “extremely pleased with the way he (Mr Jarraud) has managed the affairs of the organization” and that “he has assembled a great team and we are very happy with the way he has guided his ship through turbulent waters.”

The President of RA V (South-West Pacific), Mr Arona Ngari, congratulated the Secretary-General for his “outstanding work over the past four years” especially as Mr Jarraud had not been originally nominated in the ballot during the last Congress. Mr Ngari added that concern about Small Island Developing States was a very important issue and that the fact that Mr Jarraud had come to see these threatened islands for himself, illustrated the concern “he shares with all WMO Members”.

The President of RA VI (Europe), Mr Daniel K. Keuerleber-Burk, said that the Region had enjoyed much support from WMO during Mr Jarraud’s last term and that it counted on further support over the coming four years.

Management reforms and operational efficiency

Mr Jarraud continues his stewardship of the WMO amid several major challenges reflecting its unique role in the international community. The Organization’s areas of competence are weather, climate and water, all of which have daily impacts on people’s lives and are steeped in leading edge science and technology.

The Organization’s expanding importance has underlined the need to win more political and public support for its activities. Unlike most UN Agencies, the WMO does not operate directly across the world. One of its main roles is to coordinate and provide support for the work of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of its 188 Members. The Congress has brought together the heads of these Services along with Ministers, senior officials and other personalities.

Mr Jarraud sees the WMO and its wider family of Members and supporters as providers of services that affect how people and entire societies live, work and progress in all countries. Top WMO priorities for coming years include the prevention and mitigation of natural disasters caused by weather, climate and water related hazards, such as hurricanes, floods and droughts; improved knowledge and use of water resources; and more assistance for the Least Developed Countries, including strengthening networks for observations, expanding mobilisation of resources and training.

Special emphasis will be placed on implementing the Action Plan approved by the Conference on Social and Economic Benefits of Weather, Climate and Water Services, held from 19 to 22 March 2007 in Madrid, Spain. The conference was a unique forum for interaction among all actors, including the governmental and private sectors, which provide services related to the weather, climate or water resources. It also brought together current and future users of those services as well as of many weather- and climate-sensitive areas that still do not incorporate environmental information in their decision making processes.

WMO’s work is underpinned by continuous efforts to improve operational efficiency and provide more effective support to the work of its Members. These will remain major priorities for Mr Jarraud and the WMO Secretariat.

The WMO is currently emerging from a period of intensive management reforms. Mr Jarraud is determined to further strengthen an evolving framework of management and financial reforms at all levels of WMO’s operations.

A plan covering the Organization’s activities for 2008-2011 and beyond will emphasize strategic planning, performance indicators and more efficient responses to relevant problems around the world. It will be supplemented by an operational plan for the WMO Secretariat, and results-based budget.

The WMO will also continue to strengthen its role within the UN system, as the UN authoritative voice in terms of early warning systems about hazardous meteorological and hydrological phenomena and the status of the climate system.

Protecting and saving lives

The role of WMO in disaster prevention and mitigation is crucial. The most recent reports of the WMO co-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that ongoing climate change may lead to more severe and frequent hazardous phenomena such as heat waves, intensive precipitation and droughts.

Information on weather, climate and water is extremely important in considering the impacts of climate change on people and the economy. The NMHS networks coordinated by WMO are the main source of data for making global and regional assessments of climate variability and developing appropriate response measures. For this, it is critically important to fill the gaps in weather, climate and water monitoring networks, particularly in developing countries.

A strategic goal of the NMHSs and WMO is to increase the accuracy of weather forecasting. A 10-year international research programme called THORPEX is underway to help increase forecasting accuracy from one day to two weeks. Its results will be felt by both developed and developing countries through new methods of disaster risk reduction and the economic efficiency of forecasting technologies.

One key requirement underlined at the Madrid Conference is to develop indicators of the number of dangerous weather and climate phenomena and the damage they cause. These would help to demonstrate the interdependence between the lowering of risks for the people and the economy, resulting from weather, climate or water-related natural hazards and the improved quantity and quality of observations, resulting from the work of NMHSs and the WMO.

A scientific programme of more than 200 projects with participation by over 60 countries will be implemented during the International Polar Year in 2007-2008, initiated by the WMO in cooperation with the International Council for Science.

For the WMO to succeed in its endeavours, two conditions are essential. The first is improved coordination of the mechanisms of international cooperation within the WMO framework. The second is the mobilization of sufficient resources to achieve the WMO’s strategic goals.

Over 1000 delegates are participating in the 15th World Meteorological Congress, which is being held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 7 to 25 May 2007.


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.




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