April 2009


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Word Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3)

Climate prediction and information for decision-making

31 August–4 September 2009
Geneva International Conference Centre, Switzerland

Conference Website

WCC-3 second announcement
(February 2009 update)


Adaptation to climate change: making climate services work for society

Societies the world over are experiencing unusual climate conditions: floods, droughts, tropical and extra-tropical storms, snow falls, heatwaves, bushfires and unusual diseases. These conditions are the result of the impacts of global warming on the climate system (Earth, oceans, atmosphere and the cryosphere (ice sheets). The changing climate system may lead to higher frequency, intensity and magnitude of weather and climate events. Societies need to be prepared to live with these new conditions, since the climate system will take a long time to adjust to mitigation measures.

It is possible to adapt to the changing climate conditions. Our ancestors were able to develop lifestyles consonant with prevailing conditions, using the knowledge they gleaned from nature. Today, the science of climate has advanced; historical records provide many instances of extreme events, as well as their frequency and intensity, while the tools to gather, analyse and exchange data to generate climate services have improved significantly. Similarly, improvements have been made in the tools for rapid dissemination of early warnings and alerts.

Despite progress in our understanding and prediction of the climate system, societies, institutions and governments remain unprepared in the face of natural hazards which often become disasters. Frequent natural disasters slow down the socio-economic development of a country, since most available resources are used for saving lives and rehabilitating affected communities. Climate-related disasters constitute more than 80 per cent of natural disasters worldwide, thus the ability to manage their impacts is an important step in stimulating socio-economic development and efforts to reduce poverty.

Importantly, enhanced climate services, that include climate advisories, predictions, warnings and alerts, could also help societies take advantage of the opportunities associated with climate events.

Efficient management of the risks and opportunities of climate hazards requires a multisectoral approach, which brings information about how climate extremes interact with the various elements of society, environment and economy. Strong partnerships and high-quality data are needed from all sectors involved.

Climate science has made great strides in the organization, standardization and data-quality enhancement through the initiatives of WMO and its Members. The level of availability and adequacy of climate data varies from country to country, however, with most developing and least developed countries having inadequate networks and systems for collecting, managing and exchanging data.

Relevant data in some sectors are either not available or insufficient  to promote research and the development of climate services. The first challenge therefore is to improve the availability, adequacy and quality of climate data. The second challenge is to promote interdisciplinary research to improve our knowledge of the interactions of climate with various elements of society, economy and the environment. The third challenge is to use the results of these studies to provide efficient, relevant and skilful climate services to meet diverse societal needs. The final challenge is the development of capabilities to access and apply these climate services.

Efforts to improve our ability to manage climate-related risks and opportunities cannot be addressed by a single institution. World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3) offers a unique opportunity for the world communty to develop a Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) to “accelerate global action to address climate-related risks that threaten the well-being of society and to capitalize on associated opportunities in the context of achieving sustainable socio-economic growth, especially in developing and least developed countries”.

It will aim to do this by improving the gathering and sharing of climate observations and products; encouraging interdisciplinary, targeted research to develop climate predictions and tools to support their applications; encouraging the development of policies that support the application of climate services; and building national, regional and institutional capacities to generate and apply climate services.

The successful implementation of GFCS will be a vital step in enabling nations to adapt to changing climate and will contribute to the agenda of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, especially on issues regarding adaptation.


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