Weather and Climate Services Underpin Sustainable Development
3 February 2014, Geneva/Cabo Verde (WMO) - The urgent need to boost Africa’s resilience to natural hazards like the devastating floods which recently hit southern Africa is high on the agenda of meetings of ministers responsible for meteorological services and their directors.
The African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET) on 13-14 February will focus on how to improve the provision and use of weather and climate services which will be vital to help the continent cope with shocks caused by extreme weather and climate change. It will be preceded by a meeting from 3-9 February of Permanent Representatives of African countries with WMO, who are directors of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and by Technical preparation meeting for AMCOMET on 10-12 February. All meetings are being hosted by the Government of Cabo Verde.
“The global warming trend continued in 2014, resulting in heat-waves, flooding and droughts. The first weeks of this year have been marked by flooding in Malawi and Mozambique and a deadly tropical cyclone in Madagascar,” said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
“Africa is extremely vulnerable to the increasing impacts of climate change, which will worsen food insecurity and water stress for the continent’s growing population,” said Mr Jarraud.
“National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in Africa are vital to public safety and well-being. They are critical enablers of sustainable development and indispensable partners of economic sectors like agriculture health, water management, energy and transport. They should receive the resources and recognition necessary to fulfill their mandates. This would save the continent millions of dollars and many, many lives,” said Mr Jarraud.
Institutional frameworks differ from country to country, resulting in insufficient cooperation and operational policies.
In order to remedy this situation, the AMCOMET session in Cabo Verde will discuss implementation of the Integrated African Strategy for Meteorology (Weather and Climate). It is the third session of AMCOMET, which was set up in 2010 under the auspices of WMO and the African Union Commission.
The strategy identifies five key pillars for action:
- Increase political support and recognition of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and related Regional Climate Centres
- Enhance weather and climate service delivery for sustainable development
- Improve access to meteorological services for in particular marine and aviation sectors
- Support the provision of weather and climate services for climate change adaptation and mitigation
- Strengthen partnerships with relevant institutions and funding mechanisms
The AMCOMET session is also due to decide on the establishment of a Regional Climate Centre for Central Africa to consolidate research and forecasting capabilities. Ministers will also consider input from the meteorological community to a pan-African Space Policy and Strategy.
Ahead of the AMCOMET session, NMHS directors from WMO’s Regional Association for Africa will hold their quadrennial meeting to discuss challenges and priorities to be reported to the 17th World Meteorological Congress in May.
These include the provision of quality-assured aeronautical, marine and other meteorological services; disaster risk reduction and the expansion of severe weather forecasting demonstration projects; and the improvement of Africa’s observing and communication networks. Africa covers one fifth of the world’s total land area but has a totally inadequate observation network required for accurate forecasts.
The meetings in Cabo Verde will also discuss progress in rolling out the WMO-spearheaded Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). This aims to improve climate services such as seasonal outlooks and make them more widely available, especially in the priority sectors of food security, water management, health and disaster risk reduction. Flagship GFCS projects, involving many different partners, are currently being implemented in several African countries. Increasing numbers of African countries are developing national frameworks for climate services.
Outcomes of the meetings in Cabo Verde will inform discussions on Sustainable Development Goals and feed into the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan in March 2015 and the U.N. Climate Change negotiations in Paris in December 2015.