1. Introduction

These Guidelines are intended to provide a one-stop, consistent and up-to-date reference resource for everything managers need to know about running a National Meteorological or Hydrometeorological Service (NMS).

It should help with many of the challenges that directors and managers of NMSs face, including:

  • Ensuring that the NMS is able to meet national needs for meteorological and related data and services;
  • Responding to newly identified challenges in a rapidly changing world;
  • Clarifying and articulating the mandate of the NMS;
  • Formulation and implementation of effective strategic plans;
  • Developing strong arguments to obtain sufficient financial, technical and human resources to carry out its mandate;
  • Recruitment, retention, motivation and reward systems for staff;
  • Maintenance of networks, equipment and other supporting infrastructure;
  • Provision of quality services to meet varied end end-user needs;
  • Building sustainable capacity;
  • Management of development projects;
  • Keeping abreast of relevant developments in science and technology;
  • Appreciation of and ability to meet international obligations, agreed development goals, and other international initiatives.

The need for guidance in these areas has been been the subject of discussions since the mid-1990s. Relevant Congress (Cg) and Executive Council (EC) resolutions have included:

1991  Res 30 (Cg-XI)  Development of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services
1999  Res 26 (Cg-XIII)  Role and Operation of NMHSs
1999  Cg-XIII  Geneva Declaration of Thirteenth World Meteorological Congress
2003  Res 27 (Cg-XIV)  Role and Operation of NMHSs
2005  EC-LVII  Statement on Role and Operations of NMHSs (for decision-makers)
2007  Res 27 (Cg-XV)  Evolution of NMHSs and WMO
2010  EC-LXII  Draft Statement on the Role and Operation of NMHSs
2011  Cg-XVI  Statement on the Role and Operation of NMHSs

In particular, the Geneva Declaration adopted by Thirteenth World Meteorological Congress in 1999 highlighted the important role that NMSs play:

"We reaffirm the vital importance of the mission of the National Meteorological and Hydrometeorological Services in observing and understanding weather and climate and in providing meteorological and related services in support of national needs. This mission may be expressed as a contribution to national needs in the following areas: (a) protection of life and property; (b) safeguarding the environment; (c) contributing to sustainable development; (d) ensuring continuity of the observations of meteorological and related data including climatological data; (e) promotion of endogenous capacity building; (f) meeting international commitments; and (g) contributing to international cooperation."

Note that, to provide clarity on terms, definitions of NMS, NMHS and NHS were agreed by the 52nd session of WMO's Executive Council in 2000 as follows:

  • NMS(s): National Meteorological or Hydrometeorological Service(s);
  • NMHS(s): National Meteorological and Hydrological Service(s);
  • NHS(s): National Hydrological Service(s).

The present Guidelines update and extend the 1999 publication: National Meteorological and Hydrometeorological Services for sustainable development (WMO/TD-No. 947). As an existing 2006 publication covers NHSs – Guidelines on the Role, Operation and Management of National Hydrological Services (WMO-No. 1003), the present Guidelines focus on NMSs (which may include delivery of hydrological services).