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Press Release No. 961

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Strong climate services support climate change
adaptation and sustainable development

Geneva, 25 October 2012 – Climate change is having a fundamental impact on every aspect of our lives. It affects the sustainability of rural development and urban planning, the security of water supplies, and the strength of disaster defences. It influences the variety and cultivation of crops, the viability of renewable energy projects, the resilience of transport infrastructure, and public health and disease control campaigns, to name but a few of its impacts.

The World Meteorological Organization is therefore spearheading a UN-wide initiative to improve and increase access to climate information and operational services needed to cope with natural climate variations and with human-induced climate change, which is leading to more extreme weather conditions such as droughts, heat-waves and floods.

The first-ever extraordinary session of the World Meteorological Congress convenes from 29-31 October 2012 in order to adopt the implementation plan and governance structure of the new Global Framework for Climate Services. This Framework will build on scientific advances already made to provide accurate, relevant and user-focussed climate services and spread the benefits to hundreds of millions of vulnerable people.

National Meteorological and Hydrological Services are building on the progress made in recent decades on observations, processing and modelling data and forecasting the weather to develop longer-term climate predictions. These predictions form the basis of seasonal climate outlooks, El Niño/La Niña watches, regional drought monitors, heat-health warning systems and other climate services.

Science for Action

The Global Framework for Climate Services aims to build on the existing foundations and fill the gaps. Its top priorities will be agriculture and food security, water management, disaster risk reduction and health.

One of its pillars is a platform to bring the providers and users of climate services together to ensure that the scientific information provided by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services is understandable and useful to users ranging from multi-billion dollar businesses to subsistence farmers.

To support this pillar, WMO is convening a special “Dialogue for Climate Services Users and Providers” from 26-27 October. The Dialogue will be attended by senior representatives from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services as well as from the agricultural, health, water, disaster risk reduction, humanitarian and engineering sectors.

An estimated 70 countries, many of them in Africa, have inadequate climate services and are ill-equipped to meet the challenges of both natural variations in the climate and human induced climate change.

 “Accelerating climate change is leading to climate and weather extremes with major consequences for societies around the world,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “The first decade of the 21st century was the warmest ever recorded. It witnessed more destructive flooding, severe droughts, heat waves, heavy rainfall and severe storms, as well as a dramatic steady reduction in the summer extent of Arctic sea ice,” he said.

“Stronger climate services can make an essential contribution to policies for adapting to climate change and sustainable development,” said Mr Jarraud.

 

Practical Progress

Despite the challenges, there has been much progress in rolling out climate services in recent years, as evidenzed in country case studies presented in a new book Climate ExChange, to be published by WMO and Tudor Rose.

• Countries as diverse as Kenya, India, Indonesia and Mali are providing climate services to support agriculture and food security. For example, farmers are informed about climate impacts while also giving feedback to providers on how best to design climate information products for agriculture.

•  The Ethiopian Meteorological Organization is adopting modern climate forecasting methods and enhancing the quality of the climatology information that it offers, especially for agriculture, aviation, water, health and energy.

•  The North American Drought Monitor, prepared jointly by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, illustrates how individual nations can work together at the regional level to provide climate services. The Monitor is a first step in a larger effort to improve the monitoring and assessment of a suite of climate extremes on the continent, including heat waves and cold waves, droughts and floods, and severe storms.

•  The German Heat-health Warning System is demonstrating how climate and health services can collaborate on protecting human health in anticipation of an expected increase in the number of heat waves.

• Every month, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology provides a forecast of the likely shifts in temperature and rainfall for the coming three months, giving the ‘probability’ or ‘likelihood’ that rainfall or temperature will be above the long-term median. This is widely used in the agriculture and tourism industry.

•   China’s climate prediction services provide tailored products which are vital to agriculture in flood or drought-prone areas. Climate information is also factored into major railway infrastructure projects.

• A number of countries are establishing climate websites to improve access to climate information and services. Finland’s site, for example, provides information on climate change science and on practical means for mitigating and adapting to climate. France’s site provides regional scenarios for the country and seeks to link the users and providers of this information.

• There are growing numbers of examples of collaboration between developed and developing countries. For example, information provided by Australian scientists is helping to boost maize yields in Kenya. British meteorologists have launched a major climate change project in India and are working on capacity building projects in Bangladesh and Rwanda. Sweden is training scientists from Africa and other developing countries to use climate services.

 

Background notes:

The Global Framework for Climate Services was launched in 2009 by the World Climate Conference – 3 as a global partnership of govern­ments and organizations that produce and use climate services. It is one of the flagship UN-system-wide initiatives under the Chief Executives Board for Coordination Climate Change Action Framework. It was endorsed by the World Meteorological Congress in 2011. Details of its governance and implementation will be decided at the Extraordinary Session of the World Meteorological Congress 29-31 October.

The GFCS enables researchers and the producers and users of informa­tion to join forces to improve the quality and quantity of climate services worldwide, particularly in developing countries.

The GFCS is based on eight principles:

• Give a high priority to the needs of climate-vulnerable developing countries

• Put the primary focus on better access to and use of climate information by users

• Address needs at three spatial scales: global, regional and national

• Ensure that climate services are operational and continuously updated

• Recognize that climate information is primarily an international public good and that governments will have a central role in the Framework

• Encourage the global, free and open exchange of climate-relevant data

• Facilitate and strengthen – do not duplicate

• Build climate services through partnerships

WMO is the United Nations’ authoritative voice on weather, climate and water

For more information please contact:


Clare Nullis, Media Officer, WMO, Tel +41 (0)22 730 84 78

Michael Williams, Chief, Communications and Public Affairs. Tel: +41 (0)22 730 83 15

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