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World Climate Programme (WCP)


Historical background

The declaration of the First World Climate Conference held in 1979 called for the urgent development of a common strategy for a greater understanding of the climate system and a rational use of climate information, and proposed the establishment of the World Climate Programme (WCP). Consequently, the World Meteorological Congress, at its Eighth Session in 1979, established WCP as an authoritative international scientific programme with goals to improve understanding of the climate system and to apply that understanding for the benefit of societies coping with climate variability and change.

The four main objectives adopted for the WCP were to:

  • Determine the physical basis of the climate system that would allow increasingly skilful climate forecasts;
  • Develop evermore useful applications of climate information benefiting economic efficiency, the human health of communities, food production and the prudent use of water resources;
  • Determine socio-economic impacts and national vulnerabilities to climate variations and change; and
  • Develop and maintain an essential global observing system fully capable of supporting the other three objectives.

WCP was established as an interagency, interdisciplinary effort, with WMO, ICSU and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) initially as the co-sponsors. It comprised of four components:

  1. The World Climate Data Programme (WCDP)
  2. The World Climate Applications Programme (WCAP)
  3. The World Climate Impacts Programme (WCIP)
  4. The World Climate Research programme (WCRP)

Leadership of the individual components was assigned to agencies according to their primary mandates. WMO took lead responsibility for WCDP and WCAP and UNEP for WCIP. WCRP was co-sponsored by the WMO and ICSU until 1993, when Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO also joined the sponsorship. After the Second World Climate Conference in 1991, World Meteorological Congress, at its Eleventh Session, reoriented the four components and renamed them as follows:

  1. World Climate Data and Monitoring Programme (WCDMP)
  2. World Climate Applications and Services Programme (WCASP)
  3. World Climate Impact Assessment and Response Strategies Program (WCIRP)
  4. World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)

The contributions of the WCP through these four components can be primarily framed under following core areas:

  1. Climate observations, monitoring and data management
  2. Operational climate information, prediction and analysis systems including user liaison
  3. Impact assessment and response systems
  4. Climate research, modelling and tools 

WCP, along with WMO’s co-sponsored programmes including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), have constituted the framework for WMO’s climate activities.

Following the establishment of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) as an overarching outcome of World Climate Conference-3 held in 2009, the World Meteorological Congress, at its Sixteenth Session in 2011, considered the need for restructuring the WCP. In this context, Congress agreed to the request of UNEP for the formal closure of WCIRP component of WCP. In order to optimally support the implementation and operation of the various components of GFCS, Congress decided that the new WCP would include GCOS, WCRP and a new World Climate Services Programme (WCSP), merging the existing activities under WCDMP, WCASP including its Climate Information and Prediction Services (CLIPS) project. Taking note of UNEP’s request to replace WCIRP with their new Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PROVIA), Congress authorized WMO Executive Council to assess its scope, governance structure, funding arrangements, priorities vis-à-vis its relation with GFCS, and take appropriate decision.

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Overall scope of WCP

The World Climate Programme (WCP) primarily aims at enhancing climate services with adequate focus on user interaction, to facilitate evermore useful applications of climate information to derive optimal socio-economic benefits and thereby underpins the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

The scope of WCP is to determine the physical basis of the climate system that would allow increasingly skilful climate predictions and projections, develop operational structures to provide climate services and to develop and maintain an essential global observing system fully capable of meeting the climate information needs.

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Overall objectives of WCP

Given the growing awareness about the climate sensitivity of the society across a wide range of socio-economic sectors, and increased focus on the need for adaptation and risk management that is implemented at local level and requires climate information and services available at global to regional, national and local scales, the objectives of the refocused WCP are:

  • To improve the understanding of climate processes for determining the predictability of climate, including its variability and change, identifying the extent of human influence on climate and developing the capability for climate prediction and projection;
  • To promote comprehensive observation of the global climate system and facilitate the effective collection and management of climate data and the monitoring, including the detection and assessment of climate variability and changes from global to local scales;
  • To enhance and promote the availability of and access to user-targeted climate services, especially prediction, by providing an international framework and establishing the operational elements of production and delivery systems for climate services;
  • To foster the effective application of climate knowledge and information for the better management of the risks of climate variability and change into planning, policy and practice and the provision of the required climate services;
  • To promote capacity development, particularly in developing and least developed countries, to enable them to contribute to the operation of GFCS and at the same time benefit from it.

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