GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The World Meteorological Congress has backed a new plan to increase and improve support to developing countries through innovative collaboration with international partners.
The congress, which groups the 193 Members of the World Meteorological Organization, decided to pursue plans to create an Alliance for Hydromet Development, scheduled to be launched in October, and set up a Country Support Initiative to give its work practical shape.
The aim is to help developing countries overcome the major capacity constraints that they face in responding to rising demands for high-quality weather, climate, and hydrological services. The need for such services is growing hand in hand with the challenges of climate change and adverse weather events.
These challenges call for a stronger collaboration between WMO and international development partners such as the Green Climate Fund and multilateral development banks.
Addressing the congress, Cabo Verde’s minister of agriculture and environment, Gilberto Silva, underlined that his island nation faces a mix of drought, torrential rain, soil degradation and water salinization.
“The extreme events show the fragility of the country, and negatively affected its economic growth,” he said. “If the country’s contribution to climate change was small, the reality is that it pays a heavy price.”
Reinforcing hydrological and meteorological services is vital for Cabo Verde and other developing countries, said Mr Silva.
“We need to develop an integrated early warning system so we can better face these extreme events, with better coordinated support from development partners” he said.
Tsukutlane Au, Lesotho’s minister in charge of meteorology, emphasized his country’s need for improved observation infrastructure, strengthening national capacity, and coordinated financial support.
“More people are at risk of losing their lives and livelihoods in least developed countries and small islands,” said Carole Dieschbourg, the environment minister of Luxembourg, which is working with Australia, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, the World Bank, WMO and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction through the CREWS Initiative, a targeted programme launched in 2015 that is helping 44 such countries.
“Mortality due to extreme weather events is directly linked to the capacity of countries to observe, monitor and predict these events. So it’s an urgent issue to help those countries in order to make early warnings,” she said.
There is growing momentum from institutions such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Green Climate Fund to strengthen hydrological and meteorological services.
Today, the World Bank and the Green Climate fund are already investing more than US$2 billion on hydrological and meteorological development, with a rapidly growing trajectory.
The Alliance for Hydromet Development will be guided by principles of collaboration, including the strengthening of inter-connected global, regional and national operational systems. Today, very important observational data are missing, especially in developing countries. This lack of well performing observation infrastructure limits monitoring, understanding, and prediction of weather and climate patterns across the globe.
The Country Support Initiative, meanwhile, will scale up technical advisory support to developing countries and development partners, harnessing the extensive knowledge and expertise within WMO’s institutional network with more than 2,000 specialists worldwide.
“There is a large amount of our Members that really need assistance,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, adding that “through the Country Support Initiative, WMO will increase its impact through technical advisory services to these Members and their international partners.”
Laura Tuck, the World Bank’s vice-president for sustainable development, said that it was important to seize opportunities to join forces with partners working for the same ends. Through its recently announced Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience, the bank committed to provide additional support to at least 30 countries for higher quality forecasts, early warning systems and climate information. More than 250 million people are expected to benefit.
“We want to align our operational activities so support is more coordinated, consistent and coherent,” Ms Tuck said. She emphasized that WMO and the World Bank have already deepened their collaboration, with WMO providing advisory services to the bank and its client countries.
Anthony Nyong, director of climate change and green growth at the African Development Bank, underlined the importance of African countries working together, noting that the bank has provided grants of about US$60 million to strengthen and strengthen regional climate centres. These regional centres will in turn deploy their expertise to help national meteorological institutions. The bank is also supporting south-south cooperation, as it provides financing to enable Nigeria and Tanzania to assist countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia in weather forecasting.
Urvaksh Patel from the Green Climate Fund welcomed the rapidly increasing collaboration with WMO, including WMO support to strengthen the climate science basis of the fund’s activities. He said the Alliance for Hydromet Development and the Country Support Initiative will create further benefits for the Green Climate Fund and the countries it supports on their low carbon and climate resilient development path.