October 2008

Recent events

Regional Workshop on Tropical Cyclone Research / XIIIth World Water Congress / World Climate Conference-3 International Organizing Committee / Senegal-HYCOS preparatory phase—high-level consultative meeting


Regional Workshop on Tropical Cyclone Research
La Réunion, 26-30 May 2008

The workshop, attended by an international group of tropical cyclone experts, was designed to focus on two key questions of current concern to cyclone forecasters in the South-West Indian Ocean: “What can operational cyclone forecasters in the South-West Indian Ocean expect in the near future from numerical research models and satellite observations?” and “Which topics should future research be focused on to further improve tropical cyclone forecasts?” The workshop conclusions and other presentations from the workshop are now available online.



The workshop proposed an ambitious agenda, including significant upgrades to the forecast system, improved use of new satellite data streams, training and a focused observational campaign. The meeting was organized by the Laboratoire de l'Atmosphère et des Cyclones of La Réunion in cooperation with WMO’s Tropical Cyclone and World Weather Research Programmes.


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XIIIth World Water Congress
“Global changes and water resources: confronting the expanding and diversifying pressures” Montpellier, France, 1-4 September 2008

The International Water Resources Association (IWRA) was established in 1972 with the objective of providing international, regional and national forums for water resources issues. It plays an important role in pursuing WMO goals, such as enhancing the quality of knowledge used for decision-making; improving global access to water-related information; facilitating exchanges of information and expertise between countries and professions; and networking with complementary organizations.

IWRA aims at building and strengthening partnerships and mechanisms to address water resources problems worldwide and WMO has been closely associated with its activities. The members of IWRA in 110 countries represent every profession and academic discipline involved in the sustainable management of the world’s water resources.

The aim of the XIIIth World Water Congress was to enhance the world’s knowledge and raise global consciousness of the impact of global changes on water resources.

The Congress addressed eight topics in plenary, parallel and poster sessions:

  1. Water availability, use and management
  2. Towards the future: water resources and global Changes
  3. Climate change and disasters
  4. Development of water resources and infrastructure
  5. Water governance and water security
  6. Water conservation and demand management
  7. Financing water development
  8. Capacity buildings

Recognizing the important role of WMO on addressing issues related to climate change and variability and the impacts on water resources, the Secretary-General, Michel Jarraud, was invited to give a keynote lecture, which was entitled Responding to the challenges posed by climate change in the water sector”. It included a brief introduction to WMO and its pioneering work on the impact of CO2 atmospheric accumulation on climate and a summary of the main findings of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, notably the anticipation of significant increase in temperature, mean sea level, frequency of extreme events and the subsequent alteration of temperature, rain and availability of water resources. He recalled that six out of eight Millennium Development Goals are directly or indirectly linked to water availability and its proper management and that progress could be severely set back if adequate adaptation measures are not taken into account. Mr Jarraud emphasized the expected impacts of climate change on food security, hydropower generation, health, ecosystems and natural disasters and stressed that risk prevention and mitigation should be an integral part of development planning.

The Secretary-General underlined that the development of measures, adaptation plans and policies require data and information on the present status and past trends of climate and water resources, which are not always available in adequate quality and quantity.

The expected increase of stress on water resources caused by perspective climate change and variability calls for improved management techniques, increased effectiveness in water use and adoption of Integrated Water Resources Management and Integrated Flood Management principles, which should also include strengthened cooperation among the various actors in the water sector and facilitate the exchange of data and information.

world water congress   Montpellier, France, 1 September 2008 — Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO, addresses the XIIIth World Water Congress

He recalled that it is essential that the scientific data and knowledge on climate and water be translated into information easily understandable and usable by decision-makers to better take into account these parameters in their planning. In particular, he stressed the need to abandon a stationary climate approach in favour of an evolving one in designing infrastructure and water development projects.

Mr Jarraud informed the Congress about World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3) in 2009, whose goal is to strengthen the capacity of humankind to benefit from the advances in climate prediction and information services to manage climate-related risks as a way of developing resilience through adaptation. The Congress was also informed of other WMO initiatives, such as the Regional Climate Outlook Forums and the project to promote the development of sectoral adaptation strategies to climate change, including in water resources. In conclusion, he urged NMHSs to work together to ensure delivery of useful information and products needed for water managers.

The IWRA Congress brought together more than 1 300 experts from 131 countries for open dialogue between public and private partners, between users and decision-makers and between developing, emerging and developed countries. In order to contribute to this global reflection and action, the Congress organized numerous debates, presentations and exhibitions among key water stakeholders. The next Congress will be held in Brazil in 2011.

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World Climate Conference-3 International Organizing Committee
Geneva, 3-5 September 2008

The second meeting of the World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3) International Organizing Committee (WIOC-2) was held from 3 to 5 September 2008 at the WMO Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting was attended by 20 members of WIOC and their advisors. It was also attended by 31 representatives of UN agencies, programmes and partners.

The meeting was opened by the Chair of WIOC, Don MacIver, who re-stated his desire that the achievements of WCC-3 should be comparable with those of the First and Second World Climate Conferences held in 1979 and 1990, respectively. These had resulted in significant achievements and progress on climate issues, including the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the World Climate Research Programme, the World Climate Programme and the Global Climate Observing System. He indicated that WCC-3 needs to demonstrate the significance of climate science on worldwide socio-economic development. He indicated further the need for WCC-3 to lay out a future path (e.g. science agenda) to improve seasonal, annual and decadal prediction, including developing credible scientific services. He observed various weaknesses in the skills of climate predictions and the need to involve the users in actions to improve services. The major challenge for the meeting was to define the outcomes of the conference.


In his welcome address, Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO, observed that the large number of participants demonstrated the interest and support for WCC-3. He recalled that the Provisional Organizing Committee had met three times and made good progress in defining WCC-3. He noted that World Meteorological Congress at its 15th session had endorsed the organization of WCC-3 with the overall theme “Climate prediction for decision-making: focusing on seasonal-to-interannual time scales” and decided that WCC-3 should be funded from extra-budgetary resources. The Secretary-General further noted that WCC-3 should contribute to WMO’s activities on adaptation, the Bali Action Plan and the Nairobi Work Programme on adaptation. He emphasized that the outcomes of WCC-3 should be attractive not only to scientists and users but also to policy-makers and should be relevant to the Conference of Parties (COP), of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which would hold its 15th session in Copenhagen, Denmark, in November 2009. These outcomes should seek to bridge the gap between the work of the IPCC and adaptation needs of Parties to the UNFCCC. The Secretary-General emphasized the need to speed up the development of the conference programme and the definition of outcomes to support the efforts to obtain high-level participation in WCC-3 and to mobilize the necessary extra-budgetary resources. He expressed his appreciation to those countries that had contributed and urged others to consider contributing to the conference trust fund. He requested continued input and participation from other UN and international agencies.

The meeting agreed on timelines to speed up the organization of the conference. It approved the conference programme and requested for further work on the details of the programme for the high-level segment.

The major outcome of the meeting was the outline for the outcomes of WCC-3, which had three broad actions, namely:

  • Strengthening observational networks and the provision of climate prediction and information;
  • Integrating regional and national infrastructures (climate services networks) to deliver targeted climate prediction and information for national governments, other agencies, and the private sector; and
  • Advancing the scientific and technical capabilities needed to provide more credible and user-oriented climate prediction and information by strengthening existing international, regional and national scientific mechanisms.

It is expected that these actions will help in:

  • Empowering the vulnerable communities to adapt to the climate of today and better prepare for the climate of tomorrow;
  • Improving climate information for the protection of lives and livelihoods, natural resources and property and for poverty reduction worldwide;
  • Equitable sharing of timely user-defined climate products and information;
  • Strengthening adaptive capacity, economic efficiency, and social well-being by mainstreaming near-term climate predictions.

The meeting also recognized the need to:

  • Strengthen the linkage with and involvement of users from the private sector, NGOs and the UN and international agencies;
  • Develop outreach activities, such as presence at meetings (e.g. COP-14) and informative materials on the Conference, such as brochures, media kits, resource advocacy proposals;
  • Urgently mobilize financial and staff resources to support the implementation of activities necessary to a large high-level conference; and
  • Get the commitment of well-known individuals to participate in both the science as well as the high-level sessions of the WCC-3.

The third meeting of WIOC will be held in Bonn, Germany, in March 2009

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Senegal-HYCOS preparatory phase—high-level consultative meeting
Geneva, 15-16 September 2008

Within the framework of the cooperation between WMO and the Senegal River Development Organization (Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du fleuve Sénégal-OMVS), the meeting reviewed and discussed the status of development of the Senegal HYCOS proposal and plan for future activities, with focus on the implementation of the preparatory phase and resources mobilization.

WMO and OMVS have agreed to continue to collaborate and cooperate in developing the Senegal-HYCOS project, with the goal to establish a basin-wide hydrological information system, strengthen national and regional technical capacity and formulate and disseminate information products tailored to the needs of end-users, in order to contribute to the improvement of water resources assessment, adaptation to climate variability and change and management capabilities.

During the preparatory phase, WMO plans to organize regional sensitization workshops for water information users, country visits to assess users’ requirements for water information, provide the required expertise and technical and scientific backstopping for the formulation of a detailed project document, which will include detailed budget and log frame for implementation. The preparatory phase will be concluded by the first Steering Committee meeting.

signatures   WMO and OMVS sign a letter of intent for the implementation of the Senegal-HYCOS preparatory phase.

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