WMO Executive Council
Major outcomes of 61st session
This was the second 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) the development of the next WMO Strategic Plan and the results-based strategic planning process of the Organization, including policy and strategic guidance to technical commissions; (b) the role of technical commissions and regional associations in developing a WMO-wide Operating Plan; (c) a mechanism for monitoring and evaluating programme performance in the context of results-based management; (d) the role and contribution of WMO and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of Members in solving global- and regional-scale problems; and (e) the efficiency and effectiveness of WMO working methods, including the work of constituent bodies.
The Council emphasized WMO's enhanced role in the UN-coordinated response to climate change thanks to its leadership, along with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), on the UN cross-cutting initiative for knowledge sharing on climate system variability and change. The Council welcomed the progress in preparing the forthcoming World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3), 31 August-4 September 2009. (See also article on WCC3 in this issue.)
The Council reviewed the activities of WMO since its last session (Geneva, June 2008) 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 recalled the outcomes of the country-level fact-finding disaster risk reduction (DRR) survey conducted in 2006, which provided a benchmark on NMHSs’ capacities, requirements and priorities to support disaster risk management. It requested that the results of the survey be one of the main drivers for the development of the WMO national and regional DRR-related projects undertaken by WMO Programmes, constituent bodies and with external partners.
The Council recommended that the framework being developed for the Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS) and Emergency Response Activities (ERA) be considered as a nucleus for the development of future WMO research, prediction and assessment systems related to forest and bush fires and air-quality services of WMO Members. It urged the preparation of guidelines on communicating probabilistic forecasts to users to expand customers’ opportunities through appropriate use of this information.
The Council stressed the importance of multi-hazard early warning system projects with the goal to scale up to other countries in need of technical capacity development requiring a multi-hazard approach. The potential of the Severe Weather Forecast Demonstration Projects to demonstrate and test protocols across boundaries was also noted, including the need for the development of Web-based software to display severe weather warnings of countries ideal for effective cooperation and exchange of information over boundaries. In this respect, the Council endorsed pilot projects in Central America and Southern Africa that were intended to optimize the utilization of existing tools, methodologies and information of the NMHSs, based on the understanding of user needs. (See article on the Severe Weather Forecast Demonstration Project in this issue.)
The Council urged Members concerned to take appropriate actions to improve storm surge and wave forecast and warning services within their areas of responsibility, acknowledging the UNESCO/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) initiative in the development of technical and management solutions to address the risks of coastal hazards, including the guidelines on Hazard Awareness and Mitigation in Integrated Coastal Area Management, to which WMO was a major contributor.
The Council urged the participation of the NMHSs and regional associations in national and regional DRR platforms, noting the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat’s offer to assist in this regard, as this could lead to securing or increasing the funding for NMHSs through active engagement in the national and regional implementation plans. Stressing the importance of climate information from monthly to decadal timescales for climate adaptation and disaster risk management decision making, the Council acknowledged the WMO/World Bank project, funded through the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, to undertake “climate observations and regional modeling in support of climate risk management and sustainable development” in Africa and the need to expand this initiative to other regions.
In order to assist Members in their development of effective services, the Council requested the Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Service Delivery to develop a Policy Framework for Service Delivery that would provide guidance to Members for the development of a user-centered approach to service delivery and also assist in raising the profile of NMHSs with policy makers.
Noting the International Maritime Organization (IMO) resolution A.705(17) on promulgation of maritime safety information, adopted by IMO/MSC-85 (2008), the Council requested the development, in collaboration with the IMO, of terms of reference for an IMO/WMO World Wide Met-ocean Information and Warning Service, to complement the existing IMO/International Hydrographic Organization World-Wide Navigational Warning Services, IMO resolution A.706(17)) for consideration by EC-LXII.
The Council endorsed the Project Implementation Plan developed by the Science Steering Group of the World EXPO 2010 Nowcast Services Demonstration Project in the context of the Shanghai Multi-Hazard Early Warning Services, in November 2008.
In connection with the qualifications of aeronautical meteorological personnel and the need to integrate quality management principles in the regulatory documents, the Council requested the publication of the fifth edition of WMO-No. 258 (Guidelines for the education and training of personnel in meteorology and operational hydrology) as soon as possible. It also requested the Commission for Aeronautical Meteorology to review and refine the competence requirements to be submitted for approval by EC-LXII as Standards and Recommended Practices for inclusion in WMO-No. 49 (Technical Regulations), Volume II.
Climate and water
The Council noted the progress achieved by the Commission for Hydrology (CHy) in the implementation of the Quality Management Framework–Hydrology (QMF–Hydrology) and acted on two recommendations made by CHy-XIII regarding a review of the concept of “mandatory publications” and the adoption of a common glossary for terminology relating to QMF.
The Council welcomed the approach of having pre-session electronic discussions adopted by CHy for some of its important documents, thereby enabling participation of experts without physically joining the session and recommended that other Commissions should evaluate following this example for their coming sessions. It also noted the increasing use of electronic media, especially the e-Board and the e-Forum being made by the Commission in carrying out its activities and supported the future development of such tools with a view on strengthening communication and feedback mechanisms of relevant projects and programmes.
The Council welcomed the progress made in the establishment of a HelpDesk for Integrated Flood Management and recognized the importance of the initiative in providing a demand-driven mechanism for continued guidance and capacity building on flood management policy and strategy. It also noted the broad-based support the initiative had received from key partners of WMO in the field of flood management.
The Council approved a new process for the designation of WMO Regional Climate Centres (RCCs) to act as centres of excellence carrying out a range of climate monitoring and prediction functions on the regional scale. As a first step in the implementation of this process, the Beijing Climate Centre and Tokyo Climate Centre have been designated as WMO RCCs in Asia. The Council urged the Secretary-General to promote rapid expansion of the RCC network to cover all Regions and, in particular, to place high priority on meeting the climate-related needs of developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3) to be held in Geneva from 30 August to 4 September 2009 will build on the achievements of the first and second World Climate Conferences and would further advance development in climate observations, research and services. The Council supported the development of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) as an overarching outcome of WCC-3 and noted that its successful implementation would facilitate the improvement of the existing climate services; the development of sector and user-targeted services; capacity building; and a more effective provider-user interface in the provision and application of climate services. The Council therefore endorsed the overall concept of the GFCS, which may build on a strengthened observation and monitoring component (strongly supported by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS)); a strengthened research and modelling component (strongly supported by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)); and a new World Climate Services System (WCSS) involving two components: a Climate Services Information System and a User Interface Programme, which requires critical interactions with sectoral user communities. The Council noted that the new UN System “Delivering as one”, a System-wide coherent approach to climate change activities, had improved coordination amongst the UN agencies and appreciated that WCC-3 would provide a unique forum for the UN system to focus on application of climate knowledge to support adaptation to climate variability and change. WMO plans to bring WCC-3 outcomes to the attention of the 15TH session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP-15) to be held in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (See also article on WCC-3 in this issue.)
The Council acknowledged the remarkable progress in the implementation of Regional Climate Outlook Forums around the world, and appreciated the major impetus for this provided by the Climate Information and Prediction Services (CLIPS) project, and the support of NMHSs, regional institutions and sponsors. The Council urged the NMHSs and regional institutions to coordinate their efforts to sustain these activities on a regular basis.
The Council requested that WMO take several actions based on the outcomes from the International Symposium on Climate Change and Food Security in South Asia that was held in Bangladesh in August 2008. This included the creation of a Network on Climate Change and Food Security in South Asia in order to strengthen regional institutional and policy mechanisms and to promote and facilitate implementation of location-specific adaptation and mitigation practices. The other action to be taken was the establishment of a South Asia Climate Outlook Forum, which will aid the region in developing a consensus seasonal climate forecast and disseminating this forecast to decision-makers in the various user sectors such as agriculture, energy, and health.
Observing and information systems
WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS)
The Council recognized that the WIGOS integrated observational Strategy supports WMO Members and WMO Partners in the fulfilment of their mandates, including response to natural hazards, hydrological and environmental monitoring, climate services, adaptation to climate-change and human-induced environmental impacts, and addresses the objective “Better climate information for better future” of World Climate Conference-3. The Council reaffirmed its strong support for the further development of the WIGOS Framework concept and its implementation in collaboration with WMO’s partner organizations and their observing systems. In this regard, the Council recognized the importance of the participation of regional associations and all Members in WIGOS activities. The Council underlined the need for a comprehensive costed development and implementation strategy for taking WIGOS from concept to reality and that this strategy should also address capacity-building requirements to ensure that WIGOS benefits reach all WMO Members and partners. With a view of achieving homogeneity and comparability of measurements, the Council approved the development of a manual on instruments and methods of observations.
The Council adopted the new Vision for the Global Observing System (GOS) in 2025 and noted that the vision anticipated a transition of several important missions from experimental to operational status and implied a new paradigm for global satellite mission planning, data sharing and interoperability. The Council stressed the importance of an active partnership between WMO and the space agencies to achieve this challenging goal and requested its Commission for Basic Systems (CBS) to develop a new version of the Implementation Plan for the Evolution of Space and Surface-Based Sub Systems of the GOS that will align with the new Vision.
With a view to further standardization of automated weather station (AWS) design and reporting, the Council approved revised the “Functional specifications for automatic weather stations” and the “Basic set of variables to be reported by a standard AWS for multiple users”.
Taking into account the cost-effectiveness of Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) observations and the potential to provide a better distribution of profile data, the Council requested Members to collect AMDAR data from outside their national territories, in compliance with national laws and regulations, and to exchange these on the Global Telecommunication System (GTS).
The Council requested the preparation of a Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW) implementation strategy for consideration by WMO Congress in 2011 and noted that the EC Panel of Experts on Polar Observations, Research and Services would provide guidance and momentum to the implementation of GCW.
The Council requested Members to: (a) make efforts with the Voluntary Observing Ships (VOS)-Clim in order to collect and record the required additional elements; and (b) collaborate with the shipping industry to maintain and increase the flow of VOS information. The Joint Commission on Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) was requested to develop cost-effective in situ wave-observing technology and to promote the deployment of wave ride buoys in data-sparse areas.
The Council urged Members to take the actions necessary to ensure that progress is made with respect to the status of the climate observations documented in the Progress Report on the Implementation of GCOS 2004-2008, prepared by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) in response to a request from the UNFCCC. The Council called to Members to establish GCOS National Committees and to identify GCOS National Coordinators in order to facilitate coordinated national action on observing systems for climate. The Council stressed the need to continue its support for the implementation of the Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev Africa) Programme, which, among other issues on climate, addresses both observational and climate services needs in Africa. The Council also welcomed the ongoing implementation of the Global Space-based Inter-calibration System, that contributes to the integration of satellite systems and consistency of satellite data records as required for climate monitoring, and encouraged the further implementation of the Sustained Coordinated Processing of Environmental Satellite Data for Climate Monitoring.
WMO Information System (WIS)
The Council recognized the great effort that had been made in keeping the momentum of WIS development and implementation and the major steps achieved towards the implementation of the first operational potential Global Information System Centre (GISC) by the end of 2009. It also recognized the considerable efforts already made by a few NMHSs and organizations and the need for further financial and human resources for ensuring the proper development and implementation of the WIS, including for capacity building activities for developing countries and LDCs. The Council highlighted the need to promote the value and benefits that are expected from the WIS, demonstrating how WIS might eliminate critical gaps in service delivery, lead to a major improvement in service delivery and/or reduce costs. The support and involvement of regional associations in the WIS development were recognized as crucial factors for ensuring a successful implementation and shared ownership of the system. The Council welcomed the follow-up action for the preliminary identification of potential (GISCs) and Data Collection or Production Centres (DCPCs), noting that 37 Members and two Organizations had identified 102 potential DCPCs and 13 potential GISCs.
The Council stressed that the WIS implementation plan was progressing well, with two parts being developed and implemented in parallel: Part A, consisting of consolidation and further improvements of the GTS for time- and operation-critical data, including its extension to meet operational requirements of all WMO Programmes; and Part B, consisting of the extension of the information services through flexible data discovery, access and retrieval services to authorized users, as well as flexible timely delivery services. For the WIS-GTS real-time network structure, the Council agreed with CBS on the concept of Area Meteorological Data Communication Networks. The Council noted the progress of the global DVB-S infrastructure of the Integrated Global Data Dissemination Service, with the implementation of interregional data exchange mechanisms and user support services.
The Council supported and requested centres to use the WMO core profile version 1.1 of the ISO 19115 Metadata, stressing the need for training workshops and making available metadata experts to assist developing countries and LDCs. As regards the migration to table-driven code forms, the Council noted the continued progress, pointing to a significant increase in the development of national migration plans that should lead to a significant increase of data exchange using the binary universal form for the representation of meteorological data. The Council noted with satisfaction the CBS work towards on assessing different Data Representation Systems (DRSs) and developing a CBS policy on data representation systems, urging all WMO technical commissions to participate actively in this activity.
The Council highlighted the importance of climate data rescue and data management systems in parallel to the need for making access to these data, including the importance of the Commission for Climatology (CCl) and other technical commissions’ work in climate metadata development and exchange. Endorsement of the overall concept of the GFCS, including a strengthened observation and monitoring component and the importance of building on the strengths of other WMO programmes including the World Climate Data and Monitoring Programme. It emphasized the need and urged Members to establish a mechanism within NMHSs to implement Climate Watch Systems based on the WMO/WCDMP recommended guidelines and requested more climate training workshops to deliver high-quality climate data, information and services for decision- and policy-making, and users in various sectors.
In order to spread the benefits of space-based observation to all WMO Members, the Council encouraged actions at the regional level to address the limitations expressed by WMO Members regarding access to, and use of, satellite data and products. In this regard, the Council also welcomed the five-year strategy for the Virtual Laboratory for Education and Training in Satellite Meteorology and its expansion through two new Centres of Excellence in the Russian Federation and South Africa. Given the interest in and importance of space weather events, the Council welcomed the planned setting up of an Inter-Programme Coordination Team on Space Weather involving representatives from the relevant technical commissions: CBS and the Commission for Aeronautical Meteorology (CAeM).
Welcoming the detailed report and recommendations of the EC Task Team on Research, the Council agreed that coordinated research will enhance Members’ capabilities to contribute to, and draw benefits from, the global research capacity for weather, climate, water, ocean and environmental science and technology development.
The Council endorsed the need for a major change in the paradigm for prediction research to take into account the erosion of traditional boundaries between weather forecasting, seasonal forecasting and climate prediction, as well as the expanded mandate of weather prediction services to provide not only traditional meteorological forecasts but also new variables and products, particularly with respect to climate change. This unified approach to prediction and services should span multiple spatial scales as well as multiple timescales, including, for example, downscaling of climate information to local scale.
The Council recognized that better technology transfer from research to operations and services with optimal use of observations, data assimilation and models can be accelerated through cross-cutting forecast demonstration projects to be connected to pilot projects being developed under WIGOS/WIS. The Council agreed that there is a strong need for WMO to promote improvement and integration of observing systems and sensitivity experiments based on the most advanced operational numerical weather prediction data-assimilation systems and thus strongly supported the implementation of WIGOS working in collaboration with WMO research programmes in order to build capacity for integrated observations, to improve distribution and utilization of observations for research and associated application development through the new WIS.
Development and regional activities
Regional activities development and coordination
Considering for the first time the Report of the Meeting of Presidents of Regional Associations (RAs), the Council stressed the importance of the RAs’ role in the preparation of the WMO Strategic and Operating Plan and emphasised the need to improve the coordination between RAs and TCs, particularly in setting regional priorities that should orient the work of the Secretariat.
The Council requested the Secretary-General to continue to support RAs in improving their structure and working mechanisms, in particular regional working groups.
The Council requested the Secretariat to continue to support the funding agencies and donor Members cooperation frameworks in various regions and encouraged beneficiary Members to take advantage of these opportunities, including pilot projects.
As regard the organization of the Conference of Ministers in charge of NMHSs in Africa, the Council requested further advocacy and resource mobilization actions.
The Council requested the Secretary-General to enhance the participation of NMHSs in Africa in the implementation of ClimDev Africa and of the African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development projects.
The Council requested the TCs and the Secretariat to facilitate the formal designation of RCCs.
Expressing its concern on the deficient situation of human resources in most of the NMHSs due to retirement and reduction in their budget, the Council requested the Secretary-General and urged Members to increase or maintain their assistance for training.
The Council encouraged the Secretary-General and Regional Associations to assist Developing Countries, especially the LDCs and SIDS, in the development and refinement of their Human Resources Development Plans and in making the most effective use of the long-term fellowships and short-term training opportunities.
The Council encouraged also Members to explore the possibility of providing opportunities for the director-level executives of NMHSs to exchange their experiences and opinions with a view to further improve the service performance.
The Council requested the Secretary-General to consider allocating 50 per cent of overhead costs accruing from development cooperation projects to support project implementation and considered the WMO policy on overhead charges with a view to moving towards a full cost recovery model and requested the Secretariat to initiate a review as soon as possible.
The Council further welcomed the recent initiatives taken in the public-private sector partnerships covering support for observations and services and in increasing interaction with UNDP and the UN Country Offices in the spirit of “UN System delivering as one”.
The Council requested the Secretary-General to continue exploring options and possible opportunities, including cost-effective bulk purchasing, to address the issue of better supply and cost of consumables as the problem is a significant impediment to the development of observations in developing countries as “global good”.
The Council requested the Secretariat to pursue its strategy for raising the profile of NMHSs in LDCs and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) through sharing best practices, asked the Secretary-General to establish a Task Team on the Preparation for the Fourth United Nations Conference on LDCs planned at a high level in 2011, and expressed its appreciation for the progress made towards the development of the WMO Country Profile Database. It requested the Secretariat to further refine Country Profile Database requirements and functionality with the involvement of the EC Working Group on Capacity Building and the assistance of the Members willing to do so.
The Council noted the actions taken by the Secretary-General to strengthen cooperation with the United Nations through the active participation of WMO in sessions of the United Nations General Assembly and high-level events on the Millennium Development Goals and Africa’s development needs, the Commission on Sustainable Development, the UN Economic and Social Council, UNFCCC, ministerial meetings and other events addressed to climate change, food and economic crisis.
The Council endorsed the initiatives put forward by WMO together with UNESCO to discharge the important responsibility, entrusted by the UN System Chief Executives Board, as convener for the cross-cutting area of climate knowledge: science, assessment, monitoring and early warning. The Council welcomed the brand “UN delivering as one on climate knowledge”.
The Council appreciated the efforts of the Secretary-General to foster partnerships with the UN system and other international organizations to enhance their involvement in World Climate Conference-3 and recognition of benefits in discharging their mandates in respective sectors.
The Council endorsed the initiative taken by WMO, the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to organize a Drought Management Centre for Central Asia in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and requested the Secretary-General to provide appropriate WMO support for the establishment of the Centre.
The Council noted with satisfaction the remarkable progress in the implementation of IPY and highly appreciated the work of the WMO/International Council for Scient (ICSU) Joint Committee (JC) for International Polar Year (IPY), its Sub-Committees, the IPY International Programme Office and over 50 000 participants in the IPY projects from more than 60 countries. Preliminary scientific and observational advances of IPY were summarized in the JC Statement “The State of Polar Research” publicly presented to WMO and ICSU Executive Heads on 25 February 2009 at WMO headquarters. The Council recognized that the success of IPY had inspired many nations to continue IPY projects beyond the IPY “official” period and that an official closure of IPY was planned at the IPY Science Conference (Oslo, Norway, 8-12 June, 2010).
The Council further noted that the idea of an International Polar Decade had been discussed positively at several international forums and requested that modalities and plans for the Decade be discussed, focusing on decadal needs and issues of long-term character based on lessons learned during IPY. The Council requested the Secretary-General to organize a workshop with the participation of representatives of the Arctic Council, Antarctic Treaty, International Arctic Science Committee, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, ICSU, UNESCO and its IOC and other international organizations concerned and the EC Panel, to develop a concept and structure of the Decade for the consideration of the next session of the Council.
The Council took note of the request submitted by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)to establish formal working arrangements with WMO and authorized the Secretary-General to finalize working arrangements with the Director General of OIE.
Aware of the upcoming Group on Earth Observations (GEO) plenary in the USA (November 2009) and the GEO Ministerial Summit to be held in China in November 2010, the Council agreed that full transparency in the WMO budget for supporting GEO should be established and a formal agreement prepared for consideration by the Council.
The Council stressed the need for WMO Members to strengthen their involvement in climate monitoring and climate change research, including adaptation strategies, and the need for increased cooperation in support of developing countries in the domain of climate change, in order to efficiently contribute to the content and quality of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Council decided that the theme for the World Meteorological Day in 2011 would be: “Climate for you”.
Concerning the next WMO Strategic Plan, the Council agreed to develop separate planning documents that would include a WMO Strategic Plan, a WMO Operating Plan and a Secretariat Implementation Plan and Budget. A WMO strategic Executive Summary document written in language that would appeal to those outside WMO, particularly those who make decisions related to the funding of NMHSs, and the Secretariat should be an additional document.
The Council noted with appreciation that the External Auditor issued an unqualified opinion for the WMO Financial Statements 2008 and that the implementation of the new International Public Sector Accounting Standards is to be operational by 1 January 2010.
The Council approved the budget 2010-2011 as proposed by the Secretary-General in the amount of CHF 134.8 million.
The Council approved the budget outline for 2012-2015 and requested the Secretary-General to prepare three detailed budget options with regard to the use of assessed contributions for submission to Congress in 2011. This includes the budget option of zero-nominal growth with a total budget of CHF 265.5 million, the option of zero-real growth with a total budget of CHF 269.9 million and the option of a 2 per cent real growth annually with a total budget of CHF 282.7 million. As a budgetary innovation, the Council decided that the proposed budget would be updated in 2009 and 2010 in accordance with actual inflation rates.
The Council approved the funding arrangement proposed by the Secretary-General for the Working Capital Fund, relying on the income from investment without implication for programme implementation. The Council also approved new arrangements for the funding of the Reserve for Recruitment and Termination Costs and the Reserve for After-service Health Insurance Benefits.
Other highlights of the session
The Council designated G.P. Ayers (Australia), F. Jacq (France), A. Tyagi (India), K. Sakurai (Japan) and B-S. Chun (Republic of Korea) as acting members of the Executive Council in replacement of Messrs G. Foley (Australia), P-E. Bisch (France), S.R.C. Bhatia (India), T. Hiraki (Japan) and S-K. Chung (Republic of Korea) respectively.
Executive Council membership
The Executive Council awarded the fifty-fourth IMO Prize to Eugenia Kalnay (Ms) (Argentina).
The Council conferred the 2010 award on J.M. Sánchez (Spain), G. Scavone (Italy), V. Caselles (Spain), E. Valor (Spain) , V.A. Copertino (Italy) and V. Telesa (Italy).
The Council awarded the 2009 WMO Research Award for Young Scientists upon Alex J. Cannon (Canada).
The Executive Council agreed that the sixty-second session of the Council would be held from Tuesday, 8 to Friday 18 June 2010, and that the 63rd session of the Council from Monday, 6 to Wednesday, 8 June 2011 following Sixteenth Meteorological Congress.
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