April 2007 Downloads & Links

Socio-economic benefits of weather, climate and water services

WMO organized an international conference in Madrid, Spain, 19-22 March 2007, entitled Secure and Sustainable Living: Social and Economic Benefits of Weather, Climate and Water Services.  The purpose was to increase the awareness of users of the opportunities afforded by these services and to assist providers to understand users’ requirements more fully.

The Conference adopted an Action Plan, whose overall objective is to “achieve, within five years, a major enhancement of the value to society of weather, climate and water information and services in response to the critical challenges represented by rapid urbanization, economic globalization, environmental degradation, natural hazards and the threats from climate change”.


The Action Plan calls for a quantum change in the way that weather, climate and water information and services are produced, used and communicated. This will require a strengthening of the capacities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and a closer dialogue among providers and users of weather, climate and water information and services.

Projections of climate change and climate variability have generated a growing sense of urgency for closer collaboration between NMHSs and the users of their products and services in key sectors, such as agriculture, water resources, health, energy, transport and tourism.

One way for NMHSs to meet growing demand is through strengthened observational programmes and associated research and development. Delivery and distribution systems, including early warning systems, need to be improved so that NMHSs may meet the needs of institutions, agencies and the general public.

The urban environment needs to be further analysed as a critical ecosystem requiring targeted analysis, research and meteorological and hydrological services.

The Madrid Action Plan also aims to foster recognition, by governments and other stakeholders, of the contributions of NMHSs and encourages the involvement of the social science research community for quantifying the benefits of their services in various socio-economic sectors.  New economic assessment techniques should be developed, especially for developing and least developed countries.

The Madrid Conference Statement underpins the Action Plan. It states the resolve of participants to draw the attention of decision-makers everywhere to the large and growing impacts of weather, climate and water on community safety and well-being and the enormous potential benefits to be gained from enhanced use of meteorological and hydrological services in decision-making in virtually every social and economic sector and every country.

The book Elements for Life documents, in qualitative and quantitative terms, the crucial role of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in developing and delivering essential services to the public, decision-makers, the private sector and the wider user community. It highlights the growing benefits that humanity gains from meteorology and hydrology and the potential that these sciences hold for human welfare in the years to come.

For more details of the Madrid Conference, see Recent events in this issue.


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