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Climate knowledge for action

When the early explorers set off from their familiar coastlines, the risks were considerable. Only those who were well prepared returned.

Today we are on a journey of exploration in a changing climate. Our descendants will inherit a world left to them by their forebears. More than ever, we need scientific knowledge to guide us.

It is not only the natural variability in the Earth’s climate, but also human-induced climate change that will challenge us. Increasing amounts of invisible greenhouse gases are slowly raising the temperature of the atmosphere. As the Earth warms, sea levels rise, Arctic sea-ice retreats, rainfall increases, and droughts are more severe.

Communities everywhere will be affected. Some changes may be positive, but many others will have a negative impact. Our capacity for innovation, leadership and community responsibility will be tested.


Global Framework for Climate Services

The Global Framework for Climate Services is based on the philosophy that efficient management of the climatic risks today is the foundation for managing the changed climatic risks of tomorrow. Sound scientific knowledge underpins this foundation.

Where they exist, climate services are extremely effective. Prominent user sectors are agriculture, water management, health, disaster risk reduction, planning and energy.

But there is a wide gap between the needs for climate services and their current provision, especially in climate-vulnerable developing countries. The High-level Task Force for the Global Framework concluded that about 70 developing countries have very few or almost no climate services and therefore insufficient information about the risk of extreme weather conditions.

There is already a solid basis for the global provision of climate services. This includes existing weather and climate observation systems, data exchange, climate research programmes and risk management techniques.

Key features


User interface platform will link the providers of climate services, including National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), with the users in priority areas to ensure the right information is provided at the right time to the right people.

Climate Services Information System to protect and distribute climate data and information according to the needs of users.

Observations and monitoring to improve the collection of data to meet service provision needs.

Research, modelling and prediction to increase our understanding of what is happening now and what we can expect in the future.

Capacity building activities to empower vulnerable countries and communities to take full advantage of available services.



Plugging the gaps

The goal of the Framework is to provide relevant and timely information to every sector ranging from government decision-makers to businesses to farmers.

Thus, for instance, advance warning of an impending drought, such as the Horn of Africa crisis in 2011, would be disseminated to farmers and pastoralists who need to know when to plant crops and slaughter livestock.

The Framework will represent a truly global effort, translating scientific advances into tools that enable universal knowledge to be downscaled to meet local needs.


Potential uses of climate services

• Land-use regulation and environmental protection
• Urban and industrial planning
• Structural design of weather-resistant buildings
• Infrastructure development for rising sea levels and storms
• Energy supply management
• Transportation and fuel efficiency
• Water supply planning and dam control
• Land cultivation and livestock husbandry
• Forest and coastal management
• Health system response to extreme heat and cold
• Water-borne disease control



Priorities and beneficiaries

Initial priorities for the implementation of the Framework will focus on four key areas: food security, water, health and disaster risk reduction. In the longer term, other climate-sensitive sectors, including energy and transport and tourism will be incorporated.

The Framework will be implemented progressively in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. Many technical capacities will need to be developed. However, there is already a strong knowledge base to improve the Global Climate Observing System and to target developing countries where quick upgrades are possible. Some projects could begin soon.

Most of the costs of implementing the Framework will be absorbed as part of the ongoing improvement of existing national programmes. Additional costs to manage and develop the Framework are mainly for priority projects to assist developing countries. These were estimated by the High-level Taskforce to be between US$ 400 million and US$ 550 million for the 10-year period 2012 to 2021. This is a small price to pay to reduce weather and climate-related losses in lives and property, and to unleash the benefits of the billions of dollars spent on climate observation and information systems like satellites and super-computers.

As an illustration, the value of hydro-meteorological information in France alone is between 1–8 billion euros per year, or four to 30 times the cost of its production.


“We’ve seen too often how hundreds of thousands of lives can be lost, and millions devastated by extreme weather events. These are more and more frequent, and affect more people, who are more exposed. The greatest injustice on our watch is that those who did the least to cause climate change are the first and hardest hit. We need to rectify this. Bringing climate information to the most vulnerable and enabling them to act is very important.”

Jan Egeland, co-chair of the High-level Taskforce



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