Volume 58(3) - July 2009

World Climate Conference-3: towards a Global Framework for Climate Services

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Introduction

The climate challenge is enormous and requires a comprehensive and coordinated response from the world community. In the tradition of the two earlier World Climate Conferences, World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3) is expected to create a mechanism to provide “better climate information for a better future”. Considerable work has already been done in formulating a Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) to achieve exactly this.

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A global framework for climate services is proposed as the significant concrete outcome from WCC-3. It is well placed to build on the remarkable scientific progress of the past 50 years and the solid institutional foundation provided by the international climate observation, research and assessment mechanisms put in place by WMO and its partner organizations over the 30 years since the historic First World Climate Conference of February 1979.

Why is a Global Framework for Climate Services necessary?

Decision-makers in many climate–sensitive sectors—water, agriculture, fisheries, health, forestry, transport, tourism, energy, disaster risk management—are increasingly concerned by the growing adverse impacts of climate risks, but are ill-equipped to make use of the available climate information. There is an urgent need for a global framework that defines the interface between the providers and users of climate services to ensure that relevant climate information is integrated into policy development and decision-making.

Recent advances in science and technology offer the prospect of continued improvement in climate information and prediction services. In particular, integrating seasonal to decadal predictions and long-term climate projections into decision-making in all socio-economic sectors will ensure that adaptation decisions are smarter, more effective and better targeted.

In order to address the need for improved climate information and an effective interface between scientists and decision-makers, WMO and its partner organizations, which are co-sponsoring WCC-3, propose the development and establishment of a new Global Framework for Climate Services whose goal is to:

Enable climate adaptation and climate risk management through the incorporation of science-based climate information and prediction into policy and practice at all levels.

What is the Global Framework for Climate Services?

The Framework will have four major components: Observation and monitoring; Research and Modelling; a Climate Services Information System; and a Climate Services Application Programme. The first two components are already well established but are in need of strengthening. The third component, the Climate Services Information System, builds on, and expands, existing components of the World Climate Programme among others. The fourth component, the Climate Services Application Programme, is entirely new and will require an extensive partnership among a range of international and national organizations in order to make climate information effectively reach decision-makers in all socio-economic sectors.

 

components  
The Climate Services Information System will be built on established global programmes such as the World Climate Programme and its various elements and will reinforce and further develop, existing institutions, their infrastructure and mechanisms. It will synthesize information streaming from the first two components through a network of global, regional and national institutions and ensure the development and delivery of user-oriented climate information and prediction services. It will focus, in particular, on standardization, exchange and quality assurance of information and delivering them to decision-makers from global to local scales. The System will also build capacity among national and regional meteorological service providers in developing and Least Developed Countries, whose contributions are essential for improved climate information products at both global regional and national scales.
Components of the Global Framework for Climate Services  

The new Climate Services Application Programme is the interface between the providers and users of climate information. It will bridge the gap between the climate information being developed by climate scientists and service providers on the one hand and the practical needs of information users—decision-makers—on the other. It will support and foster necessary institutional partnerships, cross-disciplinary research, innovation, development of decision-support tools and climate risk management practices, capture of knowledge, evaluation and establishment of best practices, education, capacity- building and service application for decision-making.

What will be achieved through the Global Framework for Climate Services?

A successful Framework will support disaster risk management and the alleviation of poverty and help to achieve internationally agreed upon goals, including the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Effective implementation of the Framework would further lead to:

  • Strengthened national observational networks and information-management systems for climate and climate-related variables;
  • Enhanced climate modelling and prediction capabilities through strengthened international climate research focused on seasonal-to- decadal timescales;
  • Improved national climate service provision arrangements based on enhanced observation networks and prediction models, and greatly increased user interaction;
  • More effective use of global, regional and national climate information and prediction services in climate-sensitive sectors in all countries; and
  • Widespread social, economic and environmental benefits through better informed climate risk management and capacities for adaptation to climate variability and change.

Who will participate in the Global Framework for Climate Services?

In addition to the development of climate data products, for which WMO is the unassailable world leader, the Global Framework requires extensive collaboration and outreach to communities in all socio-economic sectors which will benefit from the application of climate data and information in policy development and decision-making. This outreach will be facilitated if it includes consultations with a broad base of participants from diverse organizations both within and outside the UN system, as well as governments.

Implementing the Framework will require broad collaboration and partnerships. National and local governments, agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector, as well as universities and research institutions, will all need to contribute to the success of the Framework. In addition, the Framework is supported by the entire United Nations System and other organizations contributing to the climate knowledge component of “the United Nations System Delivering as One” initiative.

How will the Global Framework for Climate Services be financed?

Financial support for the imple­mentation of the Global Framework within a stipulated time will need to be established through a range of mechanisms. The expectation is that specific commitments and support from developing, as well as developed, countries will be required to maintain appropriate national and regional institutions. The developed countries would be expected to facilitate the participation of the Least Developed Countries and developing countries as service providers and users.

What are the next steps in developing a Global Framework for Climate Services?

While a successful Framework will support disaster risk management and the alleviation of poverty and help achieve internationally agreed upon goals, including the UN Millennium Development Goals, it may be difficult for a new initiative to gain traction in the midst of other global crises. For this reason, and to gain access to decision-makers with the greatest influence, the WCC-3 International Organizing Committee determined that a task force made up of high-level individuals representing a broad spectrum of socio-economic sectors and regions could act as “champions” in reaching out to world experts in all sectors.

Following high-level endorsement of the concept of the Framework, it is proposed that a task force of independent advisers, supported by a broad-based group of experts, will further develop the Framework along the lines of the Global Framework Concept Note approved by the WCC-3 International Organizing Committee and in wide consultation with all relevant partners within nine months of WCC-3. Within the same timeframe, it would develop an action plan, measurable indicators and a timeline for the establishment and implementation of the Framework, including the identification of an overarching organizational body for the Framework and an indication of funding requirements. The task force would report back to the UN system, governments and other relevant organizations on the proposed next steps for establishing the Framework and implementing it within their respective organizations.

The Framework will contribute to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Bali Action Plan, especially the Nairobi Work Programme, and inform discussion at the 15th session of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009, as a possible mechanism for building the individual and collective capacities of nations to adapt to climate change.

 

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