Press Release No. 948
For use of the information media
Geneva, 5 July 2012 (WMO) - WMO’s Executive Council has issued guidance on a planned road map to increase the availability, accuracy and relevance of climate services to help society cope with natural fluctuations in our climate and human induced climate change.
The Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) was one of the main focuses of the WMO Executive Council’s annual meeting held from 25 June – 3 July 2012. Discussions helped in preparations for the first ever Extraordinary World Meteorological Congress at the end of October to decide on the governance and implementation of the GFCS.
The GFCS is currently being developed by WMO and a wide range of partners within and outside the United Nations System. It aims to fill the critical gaps in provision of science-based climate information, especially to the most vulnerable, and to tailor it to the needs of a wide range of users. The initial priority areas for action are agriculture and food security, water management, disaster risk reduction and health.
“Society has always had to deal with climate variability, including extreme weather. But the combined effects of climate change, population increase, urbanization and environmental degradation present new and greater challenges,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
“Many decision-making processes are based on past climate conditions. But that is no longer sufficient. To make better climate dependent decisions, there is a need for access to reliable and timely climate information and prediction on scales of seasons, to decades ahead,” he said in reference to the need for the GFCS.
The GFCS will be an important tool for climate change adaptation and sustainable development.
Other priority areas discussed by the Council included enhanced disaster risk reduction to address the world’s increasing vulnerability to natural hazards; an accelerated drive towards WMO’s Integrated Global Observing System to boost understanding of our planet; and strengthened aeronautical meteorological services to meet the changing needs of the aviation sector and capacity development.
“Even as the Executive Council has met, meteorological hazards have claimed lives and wrecked livelihoods,” said WMO President David Grimes.
“There has been severe flooding in southern China and part of India. Torrential downpours in the United Kingdom made it the wettest June on record, whilst Spain and Italy suffered from extreme heat. Sand and dust storms in the Sahara reduced visibility and air quality for millions. A large part of the United States of America is facing a blistering heat-wave and devastating wildfires in Colorado. “All these are vivid reminders of why we need to strengthen weather, climate and water services to protect society,” said Mr Grimes.
The Executive Council stressed that the GFCS should serve as an effective coordinating mechanism that will build on existing initiatives of WMO, Members and UN organizations. It should focus on building strong partnerships to address weaknesses and gaps.
Executive Council said that the implementation plan now being drawn up should be “clear and concise, reflecting concrete deliverables and targets that will address critical gaps and shortcomings in the provision of climate services.”
It welcomed support for the initiative shown by partners including the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the World Food Programme, WHO (World Health Organization), the International Federation for Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the Global Water Partnership. In this regard, WMO and WHO are working on a Climate and Health Atlas to show how climate information can be used to promote health and reduce the burden of disease.
The draft implementation plan of the GFCS foresees that the first two years should prioritize laying national and regional foundations and building partnerships to lay the base for scaling up work in subsequent years.
After six years, the GFCS should have facilitated production of and access to improved climate services in the initial four priority areas. After ten years it should have facilitated access to improved climate services throughout the world and across all climate-sensitive sectors (such as energy and transport), according to the draft implementation plan.
The draft implementation plan is currently open for review by all stakeholders including governments, with the first comments expected by 15 July 2012. Further drafts will be made available in August and September 2012.
Science for Action
Science-based climate knowledge needs to be mainstreamed into short, medium and long-term decision-making on all major infrastructure projects ranging from coastal defences to water reservoirs. Climate information is used to estimate the wind and solar potential to meet future energy needs. The insurance and re-insurance industry requires a solid base of weather and climate data and services to estimate the risks involved, particularly the frequency and magnitude of extreme conditions.
Widespread, global use of improved climate services will provide substantial social and economic benefits. It is a highly cost-effective opportunity to improve well-being through contributions to development, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
There are many excellent examples of effective use of climate information, but these all too often remain isolated in one location or sector. The GFCS also aims to fill this gap.
Currently about one third of WMO’s 189 Members do not have the basic necessary capabilities to provide climate services.
The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water
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