WMO Executive Council—major outcomes of the 60th session
The session was the first session of the 15th financial period (2008-2011). The Council worked on the basis of directives of Fifteenth World Meteorological Congress on the Organization’s goals and activities, particularly through the WMO Strategic Plan, the WMO Secretariat Operating Plan, and the WMO results-based budget for 2008-2011. Several important items in the agenda of the session required the Council’s decision for actions in various areas, such as: (a) strategic planning process during the period 2008-2011; (b) role of technical commissions and regional associations in developing a WMO-wide Operating Plan; (c) mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of programme performance in the context of results-based management; (d) role and contribution of WMO and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in solving global- and regional-scale problems; and (e) efficiency and effectiveness of WMO working methods. The Council also highlighted the important opportunity for enhancing WMO's role in the UN-coordinated response to climate change as a lead agency in the area of weather, climate and water, the creation and improvement of knowledge on climate system variability and change, as well as preparations for the forthcoming World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3) in 2009. The Council provided guidance on the potential role of WMO in relation to space weather and cooperation with the private sector.
The Council reviewed the activities of WMO since its last session (Geneva, May 2007) and addressed the challenges facing the Organization and NMHSs. The major outcomes of the session, which are highlighted below, also provide a broad framework for WMO’s areas of focus during the remainder of this financial period.
Weather and disaster risk reduction services
The Council decided to further improve the forecasting capabilities of NMHSs with special activities approved with respect to the Global Data-processing and Forecasting System concerning numerical weather prediction systems and tropical cyclone forecasting and with respect to the Applications of Meteorology Programme for the production of forecasts and warnings in aviation and marine meteorological services.
The Council endorsed WMO activities and initiatives for the implementation of WMO strategic goals in disaster risk reduction, giving priority to: (1) contributing to governance and institutional coordination in disaster risk reduction; (2) provision of hazard information and analysis for risk assessment and planning; (3) multi-hazard early warning systems and emergency response operations; and (4) the provision of data and processed information to catastrophe insurance and weather risk management markets. The Council stressed the importance of partnerships with relevant international organizations active in disaster risk reduction matters.
With a view to improving the availability and lead time of information related to storm-surge forecasts, the Council urged the development, in consultation with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, of storm-surge watch schemes attached to regional tropical cyclone advisory arrangements. This activity should, in the medium term, lead to the development of comprehensive integrated coastal risk management systems comprising technical guidance material on storm surge and wave forecasting and improved service delivery and operational forecast and warning capability for coastal inundation in all relevant regions.
The Council agreed on a wide range of activities under several WMO programmes with respect to improved focus on users, improved products and services and their delivery, quality-management systems and issues and human resource development with a view to strengthen NMHSs’ capabilities for improved service delivery so as to enhance the socio-economic benefits generated by them nationally.
With respect to the required competencies of aeronautical meteorological personnel the Council requested that appropriate WMO bodies review the status and content of Supplement 1 to Guidelines for the education and training of personnel in meteorology and operational hydrology Volume I—Meteorology (WMO-No. 258) and present an implementation plan to EC-LXI for consideration of adoption in order to ensure national action and compliance with timelines coordinated between WMO and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The Council endorsed a study, in close coordination with UNESCO/IOC, to advise on how the Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) could best deliver its mandate in the future in view of new priority tasks such as operational met-ocean services and forecasting. The Council agreed on additional activities improve met-ocean services, the establishment of five new METAREAs for the Arctic region; and endorsed the commitments by NMHSs of Canada, Norway and Russian Federation to serve as METAREA Issuing Services.
Climate and water
The Council supported the recommendation from the Implementation Coordination Team on Agrometeorological Services of the Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM) that the NMHSs should assist, support, and collaborate with other national, regional and international institutions that establish and maintain agrometeorological stations. The Council requested CAgM to address the issues of bio-fuels and food security and noted that a report on this matter by the CAgM ICT on Support Systems for Agrometeorological Services would be submitted to EC-LXI.
The Council decided to revisit the Climate Agenda and its original coordination mechanism and requested the Secretary-General to provide recommendations to EC-LXI, thus ensuring strong partnership with both UN and non-UN agencies relevant to climate activities.
The Council endorsed the Commissions for Climatology and Basic Systems inter-commission mechanism for the completion of the amendment of the Manual on the Global Data-processing and Forecasting System. The Council urged the Global Producing Centres (GPCs) and Regional Associations to support the climate activities of pilot Regional Climate Centres (RCC) and RCC-Networks.
The Council emphasised the importance of Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) in fostering networking amongst climate scientists in developing consensus-based forecasts and establishing effective two-way relationships with users of climate information. It endorsed a WMO-coordinated global review of the RCOF process, on the occasion of the completion of 10 years of RCOFs in Africa.
The Council endorsed the new WMO initiative to support adaptation to climate variability and change, with the mission “to strengthen coordination and enhance the provision of user-oriented climate information, products, advisories and services and to thereby support national and regional climate risk assessment, climate adaptation planning and implementation practices for sustainable development”.
The Council recognized that the outcomes of WCC-3, which will be held from 31 August to 4 September 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland, should be attractive to scientists and users, as well as policymakers, and form part of the high-level contribution to the 15th session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC COP15) in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 2009. The Council noted that the outcomes should bridge the gap between Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports and the required services to adapt to climate variability and change at regional and national levels. Furthermore, they should also address observation and data needs which influence adaptation strategies, impact assessments and climate diagnostics and projections. The development of the conference programme and expected outcomes in a concrete form should be accelerated since they are crucial to attract the participation at the ministerial level and resource mobilization.
The council urged that the outcome of WCC-3 should be action that enhances the provision of climate prediction and information services together with their integration into decision-making to make the world safer, enhance socio-economic well-being and spur growth in support to disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate variability and change, thus contributing to the achievements of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The Council expressed its appreciation to the Governments of Canada, Germany, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Switzerland and the USA, and to the European Community, for their generous support for WCC-3, and urged all Members to contribute to the Conference, particularly through the WCC-3 Trust Fund.
The Executive Council endorsed the four theme areas proposed in the Commission for Hydrology (CHy) programme of work as pillars for the Hydrology and Water Resources Programme (HWRP) for the period 2009-2012, namely Quality Management Framework (QMF)-Hydrology; Water Resources Assessment; Hydrological Forecasting and Prediction and Hydrological Disaster Risk Reduction; and, in particular, welcomed the inclusion of Water and Climate.
The Council also noted the growing concern about lack of information on the status of the hydrological networks and the attempts done by HWRP in the past through INFOHYDRO to establish a useful global data base. The Council urged Members to contribute to populating this database and invited permanent representatives to coordinate their country responses with other organizations engaged in hydrological observations.
Based on the preliminary outcomes of a hydrological data rescue survey carried out in late 2007, the Council recognized the need for strengthening national capacities for the development and use of up-to-date data-management systems that can be used for various societal objectives. It urged Members to support hydrological data rescue activities and requested the Secretary-General to take up this activity in a project mode through extra-budgetary resources.
Observing and information systems
The Council approved a Concept of Operations and Implementation Plan for the new WMO Integrated Global Observing Systems (WIGOS), a comprehensive, coordinated and sustained system of observing systems. One component of WIGOS’s many observing systems is the expansion of weather measurements on commercial aircraft, aiding in the forecasts vital for commercial aviation. Another is the deployment of a series of observing “super-stations”, designed to record precisely the changes in climate from the surface to the lower reaches of the stratosphere. The WMO Executive Council also learned of the successful launch of the Jason-2 satellite, a joint enterprise of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), which will, among others, continue the essential monitoring of global sea-level rise.
The Council reviewed the development of the WMO Information System (WIS) that will extend and upgrade the current operational data network that interconnects all National Meteorological Services around the World for further enhancing data access and use for all users. It was encouraged with the major steps taken towards the implementation of the first operational Global Information System Centre (GISC) by early 2009, as well as of several international pilot projects, and it urged WMO Members to focus special efforts and resources on the further implementation of other operational WIS international centres in 2009–2011. It fully supported the work of WMO technical commissions in developing and finalizing the technical and operational procedures, based on international standards for ensuring interoperability. The Council re-emphasized that the WMO Information System (WIS) will be a core WMO contribution and an interoperable information system within the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS) as regards weather, climate and water data.
The Council agreed on actions towards further improvements in the generation, exchange and availability of crucial data and information for monitoring the climate, especially from the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). The Council reaffirmed the importance of data rescue of historical climatological time series for monitoring, predicting and assessing climate variability and change. In this regard, the Council endorsed the action-plan for the MEditerranean climate DAta REscue (MEDARE) initiative, which was set up under the auspices of WMO in collaboration with NMHSs, universities and research centres to develop a high-quality instrumental climate dataset for the Greater Mediterranean Region.
The Council discussed the possible support of WMO for international coordination of operational activities in “space weather”. Although solar wind, rain of protons and magnetic storms, are far from the meteorological wind, rain and storms that WMO is normally dealing with, the involvement of WMO was recommended by the Council in view of the impact of these phenomena on meteorological satellites, on radio-communications and on major economic sectors such as aviation. Only a few National Meteorological Services are currently in charge of space weather in their countries, but the experience of WMO in coordinating global operational observation and communication networks, its key role in organizing warning and alert systems and its active links with operational user communities are expected to help space weather transition from research to operations.
According to the Council, scientific advances in seasonal-to-interannual prediction, and even longer range predictions offer a real opportunity for developing new climate services that will link science-based climate, weather, water and environmental prediction and information to better management of risks and adaptation. Severe weather and climate events contribute to food insecurity, flooding, availability of freshwater, high levels of poverty and stagnation or even regression in economic growth in many countries.
The Council endorsed the concept of seamless weather, climate, water and environmental prediction research to enable improved and new products, information and services for managing risks associated with climate change and variability and for developing adaptation and mitigation plans worldwide. A major focus will be on delivery of new information and services for region-specific decisions and solutions for food production, water resources management, environment and health, transportation and energy, to name just a few. This initiative will benefit greatly from the experience and knowledge of existing WMO programmes and networks of NMHSs. The development of an “enhanced climate, weather, water and environmental prediction framework” should strengthen the role and capacity of NMHSs to offer additional services.
The Council recognized an increasing demand by decision-makers for climate information required for the assessment of impacts of climate variability and change and for developing adaptation and mitigation strategies to minimize their risks. In the light of the significant gaps that still exist in our ability to observe, understand and predict/project climate with the required level of detail, the Council called on the WMO co-sponsored World Climate Research Programme to focus especially on the development of regional downscaling techniques for seasonal and interannual climate models.
The Council welcomed the development of a WMO initiative to support adaptation to climate variability and change. The focus of this initiative will be on strengthening coordination and enhancing the provision of user-oriented climate information, products, advisories and services and thereby supporting national and regional climate risk assessment, climate adaptation planning and implementation practices for sustainable development.
The Council agreed to enhance the activities for improving severe and high-impact weather forecasting. The Council urged Members to participate and support major research initiatives and projects, such as THORPEX/TIGGE (THORPEX Integrated Grand Global Ensemble) and the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE).
Development and regional activities
The Council requested the Secretary-General to support the regional associations (RAs) in improving their structure and working mechanisms, in particular regional working groups and to organize regional association sessions by expected results. Noting the need for closer inter-regional cooperation and a stronger coordination between regional associations and technical commissions, the Council formalized the regular meetings of the presidents of RAs and the joint meeting of presidents of RAs and of technical commissions.
The Council requested the Secretary-General to assist RAs in developing their regional strategic plans and to strengthen the regional offices, especially the Regional Office for Europe and the WMO Offices in the Regions. The Council also agreed to assist NMHSs and RAs in establishing an effective regional network of advisers on external relations to PRs. The Council requested that the initial operating capacity for the WMO country profile data (CDB) should be established by the end of 2009.
The Council requested the Secretary-General to make arrangements for the convening of a conference of ministers in charge of NMHSs in Africa, which would contribute towards raising the awareness of high-level policy makers in Africa about the role and operation of NMHSs in support of socio-economic development, and thereby lead to increased support for NMHSs.
The Council encouraged the Secretary-General and regional associations to assist developing countries especially the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the development and refinement of their human resources development plans and in making the most effective use of long-term fellowships and short-term training opportunities. It approved a change in the criteria for selection of Regional Training Centres (RTCs) that will make it easier for RAs to recommend new RTCs to EC between RA sessions.
The Council requested that priority be given to assisting Members to educate NMHS managers in social marketing and effective communication with government officials, politicians, decision-makers and development partners and to address needs in institutional areas, including service delivery, technical and professional training, management training and project development.
The Council requested the Secretary-General to continue to mobilize resources through strategic partnerships and alliances, particularly with aid agencies, funding institutions such as the World Bank and Regional Development Banks, to increase integration with the UN system through the UN “Delivery as One” process and to explore opportunities in the private sector.
Considering the need to raise the profile of WMO and NMHSs in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the sustainable development of the LDCs and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Council requested the Secretary-General to accelerate the preparation of the guidelines on enhancing WMO’s and NMHSs’ contribution to the achievement of the MDGs and promote their use.
The Council encouraged the Secretary-General to give high priority to the LDCs in the activities of the various scientific and technical programmes. It requested the Secretary-General, technical commissions, Members and development agencies to increase their assistance and support to the LDCs, particularly in strategic partnerships and capacity-building and in the implementation and monitoring of the UN system action plan for the further implementation of the Programme of Action for the LDCs for the period 2007-2010. The Council agreed to support the preparation of modernization plans for NMHSs in 10 LDCs.
The Council noted the long-standing relationship between WMO and UN system in various areas related to the WMO mandate. The Council agreed that WMO should be more actively involved in the UN multilateral coordination on development, which would increase support for NMHSs’ activities through country-led development policies and policies through UN Delivery as One. The Council requested permanent representatives of Members with WMO to contact UN resident coordinators and to pursue, on behalf of the Organization, collaboration of WMO with the UN country teams to ensure due consideration of WMO priority needs in UN country programmes.
The Council emphasized that the recognition of WMO as one of the leading UN organizations in the area of climate presented a strong opportunity for WMO to leverage UN system expertise and resources to restore and sustain observation networks and accelerate scientific progress, and to facilitate greater use of the scientific information by policy- and decision-makers. The Council welcomed the initiative of the Secretary-General of WMO and the Director-General of UNESCO to jointly take the lead on UN system coordination in the area of “science, assessment, monitoring and early warning (knowledge base)” as a key crosscutting area within UN-system and provided guidance on the priority areas which require the UN system coordinated efforts. The Council also adopted the approach and objectives for climate-friendly operations of the WMO Secretariat.
The Council approved the working arrangements with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which recognized WMO as an international standardization body by ISO Council Resolution 43/2007, and with the International Association of Urban Climate (IAUC), which has a longstanding cooperation on urban climate. The Council also granted to the ETC Group-Action on Erosion Technology and Concentration consultative status with the Organization.
The Council appreciated that success of the first year International Polar Year 2007-2008 (IPY) implementation, great investments of governments to this international campaign and growing requirements of scientific and local communities in the period of drastic changes in the polar regions’ environment had motivated nations to continue to sustain high-quality observations and research in this area for an extended period of time. The Council recognized the unique opportunity for WMO in consultation with ICSU and other international organizations to consider the launch of an International Polar Decade as a long-term process of research and observations in polar regions to meet requirements of climate-change studies and prediction to benefit societal needs. The Council further decided to replace its Panel of Experts on Antarctic Meteorology by the EC Panel on Polar Observations, Research and Services to embrace both polar regions.
The Council also requested to further strengthen the partnerships with UN system and other organizations, including the regional economic communities, as well as the regional and national meteorological societies.
The Council decided that the theme for the World Meteorological Day in 2010 would be: “World Meteorological Organization—60 years for your safety and well-being”.
The Council approved the high priority activities for the biennium 2008-2009 funded from the cash surplus from the 14th financial period with CHF 6 350 000 and the Secretary-General was requested to submit the detailed proposals on the use of the remaining balance of the cash surplus resources for the biennium 2010-2011 in the context of the proposed revised budget for that biennium.
As the accounts of the World Meteorological Organization for the Year 2007 have been approved by the Executive Council, the Secretary-General will: (i) transmit the financial statements of the accounts together with his report and the report of the External Auditor thereon on to all Members of WMO; (ii) urge Members to clear their dues at an early date; (iii) prepare a formal plan and put in place actions to raise the Working Capital Fund to reach the level approved by Congress and to report on this matter in the next session; and (iv) identify significant risks to the Organization and mitigating actions at both project and strategic levels and report regularly to the Executive Council, Audit Committee and the Financial Advisory Committee (FINAC).
The Council adopted a policy on disclosure of internal audit reports to Members and requested the Secretary-General to develop a proposal on operationalization of this policy.
The Council encouraged the continued preparation of the staff survey requested by Cg-XV and noted that it was well advanced and done in close cooperation with the Staff Association. The Council noted that the purpose of the staff survey is for the Secretary-General, in close cooperation with the Staff Association, to identify corrective measures and assist in determining the appropriate action to be taken.
Other highlights of the session
The Council decided at the beginning of the session that the meetings of the Executive Council would be held in public. In this context, all Members of the Organization can participate as observers in sessions of the Council and follow its discussion. A number of Members attended the 60th session.
The Council designated A.C. Anuforom (Nigeria), P. Taalas (Finland), Soon-Kab Chung (Republic of Korea) and J. Hirst (United Kingdom), as acting members of the Executive Council in replacement of D. Musoni (Rwanda), P. Plathan (Finland), Man-Ki Lee (Republic of Korea) and J. Mitchell (United Kingdom), respectively.
The Executive Council awarded the 53rd International Meteorological Organization (IMO) Prize to Qin Dahe (China).
The Council awarded the 21st Professor Dr Vilho Väisälä Award for an Outstanding Research Paper on Instruments and Methods of Observation to O. Bousquet, P. Tabary and J. Parent-du- Châtelet (all from France), and the second Professor Dr Vilho Väisälä Award for the Development and Implementation of Instruments and Methods of Observation to L. Lanza (Italy), M. Leroy (France), C. Alexandropoulos (France), L. Stagi (Italy) and W. Wauben (Netherlands).
The Council awarded the Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International Award for 2009 to K. Krishna Kumar (India), Balaji Rajagopalan (USA), Martin Hoerling (USA), Gary Bates and Mark Cane (USA).
The Council awarded the 2008 WMO Research Award for Young Scientists to Sun Ying (China) and Mary-Jane Kgatuke (South Africa).
See feature “Awards” in this edition of MeteoWorld.
The 61st session of the Council will be held from Wednesday, 3 to Friday, 12 June 2009, and the 62nd session of the Council from Wednesday, 26 May to Friday 4 June 2010 at the headquarters of the Organization.
Contact: MeteoWorld Editor - WMO ©2008 Geneva, Switzerland