News

WMO, SPREP Campaign to Improve Weather and Climate Services

wmo-sprep4 August 2014: A global campaign to improve weather and climate services for small island developing States (SIDS) was launched with support from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and Digicel Pacific. The 'Small Islands, Weather Together' campaign aims to illustrate that SIDS can work together to improve critical weather and climate services.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said SIDS require greater investment to strengthen these services or else “extreme weather events could simply wipe out years of development efforts.” He underlined that investing in early preparedness and prevention is more cost effective than focusing on rehabilitation and post-disaster action, and called for enhancing the quality of early warnings for extreme weather, so they can be understood and used by island communities and government agencies.

Despite an increase in the frequency and intensity of weather and climate events due to climate change in SIDS, many meteorological services still lack the basic infrastructure, technology and expertise to protect vulnerable island communities and economies. SPREP and others are working to improve communications in partnership with national meteorological services, the media and communities. SPREP Acting Director General Kosi Latu pointed to the lack of “shelf life” of these forecasts and warnings, stating that “they must be disseminated rapidly to the public or else they are useless.” However, he also discussed improving the way climate information is used over the longer term by farmers, fishermen and decision makers, for example, when planning to build new infrastructure. Jarraud noted that if the global community does not act now to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emisssions, SIDS will be left in “a situation which may no longer be manageable.”

The ‘Small Islands, Weather Together‘ campaign was launched in the lead up to the UN Third International Conference on SIDS, to be held in Apia, Samoa, from 1–4 September, 2014. [WMO Press Release] [‘Small Island, Weather Together' Website]