STATEMENT BY DR A THOMAS, DIRECTOR,
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for inviting me to present to this session of the SBSTA information on developments in regard to systematic observation. On behalf of the Sponsors and the Partners of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), I want to indicate the important role the Conference of Parties plays, particularly though the SBSTA, in developing national and international support and ownership of global observing systems for climate. The decisions of the COP related to systematic observation have served to focus many of the primary issues faced by global observing system programs in addressing the needs of the UNFCCC. In particular, I am referring to decisions 14/CP.4 of COP-4 and 4/CP.5 and 5/CP.5 of COP-5. Your continued support and involvement is essential to the delivery of the required observational systems.
Today I will discuss firstly developments in regard to facilitating an intergovernmental process for systematic climate observations in response to the call in 14/CP.4 and reiterated in 5/CP.5; secondly I will report on GCOS' responses to other aspects of decision 5/CP.5 including determining the adequacy of the GCOS; and, finally I will indicate some developments in the global observing systems for climate including recent activities of the Integrated Observing System Strategy (IGOS1) partnership. The GCOS secretariat will be preparing a report on this prior to COP-6. I anticipate I will be in a position to report further significant developments in these matter to future sessions of the SBSTA.
FIRSTLY WITH RESPECT TO THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PROCESS :
Mr. Chairman, decision 14/CP.4 requested "IACCA, through the GCOS Secretariat to initiate an intergovernmental process for addressing priorities for action to improve observing systems and for identifying immediate, medium-term and long-term options for financial support." while decision 5/CP.5 requested the GCOS secretariat to continue this activity and to report on it to SBSTA 12.
The GCOS Secretariat took advantage of an Informal Meeting, convened by Canada in February 2000, on Developing an Intergovernmental Mechanism or Process for GCOS to consider a range of possible options and the nature of potential solutions. That meeting recognised the clear need for an intergovernmental process for implementing GCOS and that the current approach was not working. The participants concluded that the best solution was to make effective use of all of the existing intergovernmental mechanisms potentially available to GCOS and its partners. It strongly urged GCOS to pursue a multi-pronged approach: to use more fully the existing intergovernmental mechanisms of all of its sponsoring agencies and their appropriate subsidiary bodies; to continue to engage the UNFCCC and its bodies, particularly SBSTA; to encourage national co-ordination of all aspects of climate observations across the various disciplines and domains; and to increase the proportion of representatives of the operational community on the GCOS Steering Committee. The chairman of the meeting communicated these conclusions to the GCOS sponsoring agencies on behalf of the participants.
RESOLUTIONS OF GCOS SPONSORS
Mr Chairman, we fully recognise the importance of using more fully the existing intergovernmental mechanisms of the GCOS sponsoring agencies; in particular, through the use of common resolutions. This is proceeding well.
International Council for Science (ICSU) and World Meteorological Congress
As reported to SBSTA-11, both ICSU at its twenty sixth General Assembly in September 1999 and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) at its thirteenth Congress in May 1999 adopted very strong resolutions in support of GCOS.
WMO Executive Council
At its Fifty-second Session in May 2000, the WMO Executive Council, taking into account the advice on the Intergovernmental Process, adopted a wide-ranging resolution on GCOS, with emphasis on its interaction with the UNFCCC, particularly with regard to 4/CP.5 and 5/CP.5 of COP-5.
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Executive Council
The Thirty-third Session of the Executive Council of the IOC later this month will consider a Resolution along similar lines.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
We will develop a similar proposal for consideration by UNEP.
GCOS IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY
The requirement for an implementation Strategy for GCOS, clearly defining its intergovernmental process as well as how global observing systems for climate will be implemented, is well recognised. We have initiated development of a formal strategy, which will be considered by the GCOS Steering Committee at its next session in China this September. The strategy will clearly emphasise the need to foster ownership by national governments in implementing a multidisciplinary and multidomain global observing system for climate by stressing the cost effectiveness of building on existing national systems that in many cases have been implemented and operated for other purposes including basic research.
Mr. Chairman, within this strategy we put great emphasis on the interest and actions from this body in support of the global observing systems for climate and hope to maintain your continuing interest as a most important intergovernmental process with which we can work to implement a Parties-based global climate observing system.
SECONDLY WITH RESPECT TO OTHER ASPECTS OF DECISION 5/CP.5
ON THE MATTER OF REGIONAL WORKSHOPS
In response to 5/CP.5, the GCOS Secretariat had already begun to organise regional workshops to identify the capacity-building needs of developing countries. With support from the WMO, UNEP, the USA and Australia, the first workshop covering the South Pacific region will be held in Samoa in August 2000. Further workshops are under development building on offers of support from Canada, Japan, UNEP and EUMETSAT, including the holding of the second in Africa in the next six to nine months.
ANALYSIS AND SYNTHESIS OF REPORTS
Mr Chairman, 5/CP.5 also requested us to work with the Convention secretariat to develop a process for synthesising and analysing national reports on observations. There are four essential foundations for determining properly the adequacy of the GCOS to meet the Convention's needs: the first, guidance to ensure adequate and consistent information from the Parties, was established at COP-5 (SBSTA will recall that we assisted the Convention secretariat in developing these reporting guidelines). The second is full reporting by all Parties; reporting from only Annex I Parties, no matter how detailed, will severely hamper our ability to adequately analyse the global systems. We have commenced work on the remaining two foundations: the analysis and synthesis of the reports, and the development of a report to the Parties on the adequacy of national contributions to a global climate observing system. Mr Chairman I expect to be able to report further on this matter to a future session of SBSTA.
IMPLEMENTATION AND FURTHER PLANNING
Finally, Mr Chairman, today I would like to highlight some recent developments relating to implementation and further planning of the IOS.
In concluding, Mr Chairman, I must again draw to SBSTA's attention the resource limitations that we continue to face. Without those generous contributions we have received from a small number of Parties, I would be the only professional staff member in the GCOS Secretariat. We are continuing to work with our observing system partners, in the face of these very difficult circumstances, to respond to the expressed needs of the Convention. But without identifying and obtaining significant further support, I fear we may soon be unable to cope with all of the tasks required.
Mr Chairman. Again, I thank the SBSTA for the opportunity to report to it on these important matters and I look forward to reporting substantial progress at future sessions. In particular, I will be presenting a significant report on implementation and further planning of the Initial Operational System, especially those developments under the IGOS, to SBSTA-13. We are also planning to organise a side event on this topic during your session in November.