June 2009

Recent events

Regional Association IV (North America, Central America and the Caribbean) / International Workshop on Adaptation to Climate Change in West African Agriculture / Commission for Basic Systems / Fourth WMO International Workshop on Monsoons / Fifth World Water Form / Mid-term validation workshop of the study on the reduction of vulnerability of West Africa to climate change / Fourth WMO International Workshop on Monsoons

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Regional Association IV (North America, Central America and the Caribbean)—15th session (XV-RA-IV)

Nassau, Bahamas, 24 April-1 May 2009.

The session was attended by 44 participants from 19 Members of the Region, 11 observers and two invited experts.

New regional management

The Association unanimously elected Arthur W. Rolle (Bahamas) as president and Luz Graciela de Calzadilla (Panama) as vice-president to serve for the next intercessional period.

Key issues

Two of the important issues addressed by the region were civil aviation requirements for meteorology and the approach for to RA IV subsidiary bodies.  Extensive discussions regarding education and training requirements for aeronautical meteorologists and the establishment of national quality management systems for aeronautical meteorology both to comply with International Civil Aviation Organization standards, resulted in the call for a task team to address these important issues. The session also focused on the new working group structure. The establishment of six working groups was considered unrealistic. A consensus was obtained for a Management Group (with Hurricane Committee Chair, and Hydrological adviser as ex officio members), the Hurricane Committee and the creation of ad hoc task teams as determined by the president in accordance with the priorities discussed during the session and in consultation with the Management Group.  The session also agreed with the establishment of focal points to ensure the necessary linkages with the WMO Secretariat, constituent bodies, other international organizations, projects, etc). The RA IV Management Group was also asked to finalize the RA IV Regional Strategic Plan.

Meeting organization

Cost savings and greater efficiency of the session were achieved by organizing the agenda by expected results.  The total number of days was reduced from 10 to six and a half working days. The number of Documents was reduced (from 32 docs and 5 INFs in the precedent session to 12 Docs and 14 INFs).  The meeting was preceded by the Hurricane Committee and three side events (requested by Spain, Finland and one convened by the WMO Secretariat on Haiti) were organized.  The Secretary-General held separate meetings with the Bahamas Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Hubert Alexander Ingraham, and the Minister of the Environment, The Hon. Earl D. Deveaux.

photo   XV-RA IV, Nassau, Bahamas — (from left to right) Rob Masters, Director, WMO Development and Regional Activities Department; Arthur Rolle, president of RA IV; Hubert Ingraham, Prime Minister of the Bahamas; and Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO.

 

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International Workshop on Adaptation to Climate Change in West African Agriculture

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 27-30 April 2009

The workshop brought together over 70 experts and key decision-makers to discuss and recommend climate change adaptation options for the agriculture, livestock, forestry and fisheries sectors in West Africa.

The Workshop identified several key recommendations, knowledge gaps and opportunities for policy makers, researchers and extension systems, international organizations, and NGOs to implement programs designed to minimize short- and long-term vulnerability of the West African region to climate change.  The principal recommendations were to:

  • Integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies into national and regional development programmes;
  • Put forward strongly the primordial role of weather and climate services and products in developing adaptation solutions to climate change in West African agriculture in national development policies;
  • Improve water resource management and focus it primarily on enhancing food security in the region;
  • Assemble, document and disseminate a comprehensive and action-oriented database of adaptation options for different farming and livelihood systems and agro-ecological zones, including measures and policies, for serving the needs of smallholders;
  • Mobilize necessary resources to strengthen research on the impact of climate change on agriculture in the different agro-ecological zones of West Africa as empirical evidence and research results in this area remain largely insufficient; 
  • Collect and use accurate and proven data on carbon sequestration in biomass and soils in each agro ecological zone as a basis for the negotiation processes under Multilateral Environmental Agreements;
  • Facilitate better access to credit and agricultural inputs to intensify integrated production systems such as crop-livestock and aquaculture-agriculture through improved natural resource management, adapted varieties and livestock breeds;
  • Initiate and strengthen cooperation among academic and research institutions, regional and international organizations and NGOs to provide opportunities for strengthening institutions, human resource development and capacity building to deal with climate change impacts;
  • Establish a West and Central African Network on Climate Change and Food Security;
  • Request policy-makers to help scale up technical and financial support for the adaptation efforts of the West African countries;
  • Establish, as part of the implementation of the ECOWAS Sub-regional Action Programme on Climate Change, a Technical Secretariat comprising of competent institutions at the national and regional level in West Africa and such international institutions and organizations as WMO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA0, the African Development Bank (AfDB), State Agency for Meteorology of Spain (AEMET), the Rockefeller Foundation and the International Agricultural Research Institutes, etc. in the spirit of implementation of the the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP);
  • Request ECOWAS, as the lead institution, assisted by the Permanent Inter-State Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel, to support the Technical Secretariat. At the national level, the Ministry of Agriculture, in coordination with the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) should support the Technical Secretariat.
  • Ask the Technical Secretariat to develop a comprehensive communication plan to facilitate efficient exchange of information with regard to climate change.

The Workshop was jointly sponsored by WMO, FAO, AEMET, AfDB, ECOWAS, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, the International Livestock Research Institute and the General Directorate of Civil Aviation and Meteorology of the Government of Burkina Faso.

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Commission for Basic Systems (CBS)—14th session
Dubrovnik, Croatia, 25 March- 2 April 2009


The Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service provided, under the leadership of its Director and Permanent Representative of Croatia with WMO, Ivan Čačić, warm hospitality and excellent arrangements that ensured the success of the session. The Technical Conference on the WMO Integrated Observing System (WIGOS) (23-24 March) preceded the session of CBS.

group photo

Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO, addressed the opening session. He expressed the appreciation of WMO to the Government of Croatia for hosting the session and thanked the president of CBS, Alexander Gusev, for his leadership and for the work accomplished. He emphasized the role of CBS for the key elements to achieving the Expected Results of WMO, including the Data Processing and Forecasting System, the Public Weather Services (PWS) Programme and the Disaster Risk Reduction Programme. He highlighted the underlying importance of the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS) and the WMO information system (WIS) and the importance of CBS’s contribution to monitoring climate and adapting to climate change in ensuring the monitoring of essential climate variables

As regards integrated observing systems, the session adopted the Vision for the Global Observing System (GOS) in 2025 that provides high-level goals to guide its evolution from both surface- and space-based perspectives in the coming decades. It considered the impact of various observing systems for the further improvement of numerical weather prediction and agreed on measures for consolidating full Integration of Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) into GOS and CBS activities. It adopted functional specifications for automatic weather stations that play an increasingly important role in monitoring weather and climate. It agreed on the designation of lead centres for the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) as crucial for monitoring climate and climate change. The session gave particular attention to the WIGOS initiative adopted by Fifteenth World Meteorological Congress and organized its leading technical role in this initiative, including the contribution of GOS as a core observing system of WIGOS. The session adopted the WIGOS Technical Conference declaration which was developed by the conference just preceding the session. Space-based observing systems under the WMO Space Programme have a crosscutting role for all WMO programmes. In this respect, the session agreed on the development of concept of Regional Specialized Satellite Centres for Climate Monitoring; it also adopted mechanisms for the new space weather activities. The session supported the continued involvement of WMO in the Group on Earth Observations, ensuring that WMO's programmes and contributions be acknowledged as such.

The session reviewed the development of information systems and services in the context of the development and implementation of WIS and the Global Telecommunication System (GTS), as its major operational component. It agreed on the principles for the development of the GTS-WIS communication structure, with the Improved Main Telecommunication Network as the core WIS network. It endorsed the development of a WMO conceptual model of data representation and policy, as well as the consolidation of WMO metadata standards in compliance with relevant International Organization for Standardization standards. The session adopted numerous additions to data representation tables to meet evolving and new requirements. It endorsed updated guidance material for National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) on information and communication technology to facilitate taking early benefits from advanced techniques and enhanced operational procedures, including high- priority information exchange. The session adopted major building blocks for the WIS technical regulatory and guidance documentation and endorsed the potential global WIS centres (Global Information System Centres) and Data Collection or Product Centres as identified by numerous WMO Members. It agreed on the organization of demonstrations of capabilities of candidate WIS centres at CBS-Ext. (2010) for formal designation, and its plan of action for submitting formal designations to Sixteenth Congress (2011). The session supported the international and national activities for the continued protection of radio-frequency allocations for weather, water and climate monitoring and prediction.

When considering the further development of the Global Data Processing and Forecasting System, the session agreed upon the designation of two new nominated Global Producing Centres for Long-Range Forecasts: the Moscow Hydromet Centre (Russian Federation) and Pretoria (South Africa). It endorsed new criteria for designating Regional Climate Centres (RCCs) as well as nominations for such. The session reviewed ensemble prediction systems and applications that are becoming increasingly integrated into operational numerical weather prediction systems in the more advanced centres and increasingly used in operational forecasting. It endorsed criteria for the Lead-Centre for the Long-range forecasting Multi-Model Ensemble and recommended the designation of joint Global Producing Centres Seoul and Washington. The session reviewed WMO Emergency Response Activities (ERA)—atmospheric transport modelling (ATM)—and endorsed the designation of Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) Offenbach (Germany) as a new RSMC-ATM/backtracking (ERA-Atmospheric Transport Modelling). The session expressed great appreciation for the Severe Weather Forecasting, and Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project (SWFDP) that started with its first implementation in south-eastern Africa and is now expanding in Africa and other regions, in collaboration with the Public Weather Services and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes.

As regards the Public Weather Services Programme, the session agreed on the development and strengthening of linkages between NMHSs and user communities in key social and economic sectors for the enhancement of service delivery. It endorsed PWS Pilot Demonstration Projects within the Learning through doing concept to demonstrate the benefits of weather, climate and water services to user communities and to create awareness of the capabilities of NMHSs. It supported more frequent coordination meetings for the World Weather Information Services Website hosts, in order to ensure effective coordination among the increased number of Members which are hosting the Website in different languages. The session emphasized the crucial importance of a single official voice for warnings as a priority area of Members. Noting the need for an increased focus on meteorological services for improved humanitarian planning and response, the session established a task team to plan and work towards implementation of a project in this area. It also decided its work plan for developing standard guidelines concerning the definition, database, metadata and statistical analysis and mapping tools for meteorological hazards.

The session elected Fredrick R. Branski (USA) as president and Susan L. Barrell (Australia) as vice-president of the Commission for Basic Systems. It took governance decisions, including its working programme for 2009-2010, establishment of working structure and designation of the Open Programme Area Groups and Expert Teams chair and co-chair persons and organized CBS’s contribution to the WMO’s strategic planning. The session also agreed on improved working methods, taking benefit from modern information and communication technology.

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Fifth World Water Form

Istanbul, Turkey, 16-22 March 2009

The World Water Forum is an initiative of the World Water Council that has the aim of raising awareness on water issues all over the world. As the main international event on water, it seeks to enable multi-stakeholder participation and dialogue to influence water policy-making at a global level, thus assuring better living standards for people all over the world and a more responsible social behaviour towards water issues in line with the pursuit of sustainable development.

After previous Forums in Morocco (1997), the Netherlands (2000), Japan (2003) and Mexico (2006), the 5th World Water Forum was held in Istanbul, Turkey in 16-22 March 2009. It was designed to be different and thus aimed to bring more experts from the world than merely ideas and debate amongst water experts to improve our understanding of divergent points of view and allow us to share solutions. To achieve the aim of the Forum “Bridging divides for water”, 100 sessions to address 24 topics under six thematic areas were organized.

WMO was requested to be involved in the organization of two technical sessions “Managing water-related risks in changing climate” and “Data for all”, the latter jointly with the International Association for Hydrological Sciences. The sessions under Topic 6.4 (Data for all) attracted may participants as it aimed at stressing the need for adequate data and information, highlighting the existing frameworks and monitoring regimes used to collect and compile water-related data and review their current state; demonstrate the potential of new and future technology to improve access to and management of data and information and promote cooperation for data collection, dissemination and exchange of water-related data and information.

Within the framework of UN-Water Africa, WMO collaborated and cooperated with the African Development Bank in organizing, under the auspices of the African Ministers' Council on Water, the African Regional Day and the African Stand to demonstrate UN support to Africa. Recognizing the important role of WMO in addressing water and climate issues in Africa, the African Development Bank and UN-Water/Africa, invited Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO and other eminent personalities, including HRH the Prince of Orange, to address the opening of the Regional Session for Africa. In his address, he highlighted WMO’s role in strengthening African institutional capacity, which includes developing and supporting a hydrological and meteorological framework to make integrated water resources management systems more affordable and sustainable through strengthening practical support to national and local efforts. In his conclusion he informed the participants about World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3) and encouraged high-level policy-makers to participate.

In order to promote WMO’s visibility during the event, WMO with the support of the Turkish State Meteorological Service had a booth in the Expo Hall to demonstrate WMO activities and publications. Also within the framework of UN-Water “Delivery as one”, WMO had another booth in the UN Pavilion to disseminate its publications and promote its activities in different water-related fields. More than 5 000 people, representing intergovernmental, governmental, non-governmental and research organizations, visited the two booths. It was also visited by high-level delegates, including ministers, assistant ministers and heads of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. There was a high demand for information on climate change issues and for material related to operational hydrology and flood management.  

group photo   The WMO booth at the Forum attracted a number of young people.

Mr Jarraud held several meetings with VIPs, including the Prince of Monaco and the Minister of Environment and Forestry of Turkey. The event and the WMO booths in particular provided an excellent opportunity to promote WCC-3 and to encourage participants and decision-makers to participate in this important Conference. During the event several ministers were briefed on WCC-3; they expressed interest in participating and agreed to encourage their governments to participate at the highest political level. Several memorandums of understanding between WMO and partners relating to the Associated Programme on Flood Management HelpDesk and WHYCOS were signed during that week.

photo   The Secretary-General at the WMO booth with members of the Turkish State Meteorological Service

 

 

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Mid-term validation workshop of the study on the reduction of vulnerability of West Africa to climate change
Banjul, Gambia, 2-4 March 2009

This Workshop was as a follow-up to the recommendations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Ministerial Conference held in Burkina Faso in January 2007, to develop and implement a Subregional Action Programme to reduce the vulnerability of West Africa and Chad to climate change. ECOWAS recruited a consulting firm to undertake the preliminary work (visit and discuss draft working documents with Member States, stakeholders and subregional organizations) and constituted a committee of relevant regional and international organizations (WMO, Permanent Inter-State Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) to give guidance and follow-up on the draft and implementation of the Action Programme.

The objectives of the Workshop were to:

  • Present the background document “Overview of West African vulnerability to climate change and of response Strategies”;
  • Discuss and validate the Strategy to Reduce Vulnerability in the Region;
  • Discuss and elaborate elements of the Action Plan to reduce vulnerability in the region.

The Workshop brought together more than 60 participants representing Benin, Burkina-Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo; various sub-regional organizations (CILSS, UEMOA, the West African Development Bank (WADB), West African Health Organization (OOAS), ECOWAS parliament, rural organizations (Rural Organization for People’s Advancement  and international organizations (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, WMO, World Wildlife Fund, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, the French Global Mechanism Fund, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Global Mechanism/UNCCD, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Global Water Partnership). Bilateral development partners (French Cooperation, Japanese Cooperation, Canada International Development Agency) were also present.

group photo

The opening ceremony was chaired by Momodou B. Sarr, Executive Director of the National Environment Agency, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and GEF Focal Point of The Gambia and GEF Council Member of its Sahelian Constituency, comprising nine member countries. It was marked with other speeches from Ousman Jarjue, UNFCCC Focal Point and Director of Water Resources, Johnson Bonuah, ECOWAS Director of Environment representing the Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, President of the Agriculture, Environment, Water Resources and Rural Development Committee of the ECOWAS Parliament and Hon. Kotu Cham, Minister of Forestry and the Environment of the The Gambia, who gave the keynote address and declared the Workshop open.

Two documents were presented by the consultants and discussed in plenary sessions:

  • Overview of West African vulnerability to climate change and of response strategies;
  • Zero Draft of the Strategy and Action Plan to Reduce Vulnerability to Climate Change in West Africa. This document is divided into two sections: Strategy and guidance; and outline Action Plan.

Each of the proposed three objectives of the Action Plan was discussed by the three Working Groups constituted during the workshop.

  • The regional institutions support effectively the process of adaptation to climate change;
  • The national stakeholders in each country adopt harmonized coordinated approaches within the framework of adaptation to climate change;
  • The adaptation programme to climate change is fitted into the priority regional investment programme and projects of the different countries
  • The outcomes of the groups’ work were reviewed in plenary and recommended to be incorporated into the main documents for discussion and finalization in the next Workshop. They included:
  • The need to create a synergy between the three outcomes of the Rio Convention namely, the concentions on desertification, climate change and biodiversity;
  • The need to take into account the cost of climate change adaptation;
  • The need to put climate change in a global context rather than limited to the local West African level.

The Commissioner responsible for the ECOWAS Department of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Ousseinou Salifou, held a meeting with the main technical and financial partners. The technical partners congratulated ECOWAS and indicated their endorsement of the process. In turn, the Commissioner congratulated the partners on behalf of the President of the Commission, as well as in his own name. He reassured the partners that the ongoing dynamics should be maintained with ECOWAS and UEMOA and called for the support of all.

The participants congratulated the ECOWAS Commission for the efforts undertaken and recommended the maintenance of the forum.

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Fourth WMO International Workshop on Monsoons (IWM-IV)
(Beijing, China, 20 to 25 October 2008)

The fourth quadrennial workshop was hosted by the China Meteorological Administration (CMA). Organized by the WMO/WWRP Monsoon Panel, chaired by C.P. Chang (Naval Postgraduate School, USA), it brought together more than 140 monsoon experts from 33 WMO Members. The theme of the workshop was research for the reduction of disaster risks through improved forecasts of high-impact weather. The IWM-IV programme was designed in such a way as to engage the participants in discussions of recent advances and current issues covering all timescales (mesoscale, synoptic, intraseasonal, climate) that are relevant to the forecast of high-impact weather such as torrential rainfall and tropical cyclones in the world’s monsoon regions, and as a means to transfer new science and technology to National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in these regions. Keynote speakers included Taroh Matsuno (Frontier Research Center, Japan), Richard Johnson (Colorado State University, USA), Ngar-Cheung Lau (NOAA/Princeton University, USA), Sulochna Gadgil (India Institute of Science) and Ding Yihui (Beijing Climate Centre).

The six-day workshop was held jointly with the Second Pan-WCRP Monsoon Workshop (PWM-2), the WMO Training Workshop on Operational Monsoon Research and Forecast Issues, the Fifth Asian Monsoon Year International Workshop, the First Meeting of the WMO Monsoon Panel and the Ninth CLIVAR AAMP Meeting and the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of China’s Institute of Atmospheric Physics.  

A total of 63 invited and contributed oral discussion papers and 77 posters were presented during the week. Both the discussion forum on international collaboration on research and forecast of high-impact weather in the monsoon regions and the training workshop sessions were enthusiastically attended by both researchers and NMHS forecasters. The in-depth exchange and substantive discussion resulted in a number of recommendations for operational forecasters, the research community and WMO. Some of the principal recommendations emanating from the workshop were for: the establishment of a radar data virtual date centre in Japan and a tropical and monsoon field programme data centre in the USA; the India Meteorological Department to initiate consultations with National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the Bay of Bengal region on applications research; organization of a workshop on heavy rainfall research and forecasting/nowcasting in tropical monsoon regions; discussion of possible proposals for a numerical weather prediction demonstration project and a tropical convection research centre in the equatorial region; and the organization of training workshops for forecasters in monsoon regions.

 

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