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World Meteorological Congress Sets Priorities for Next Four Years

3 June 2011: At the end of its two-week quadrennial meeting, the World Meteorological Congress identified the top five priorities for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), endorsing the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), which will increase the availability of climate information for policy-makers to plan and make decisions to adapt to a changing climate.

In addition to the GFCS, the Congress highlighted priorities related to enhanced contribution to disaster risk reduction (DRR), improved observation and information systems, strengthened capacity of developing countries to share in scientific advances, and more efficient meteorological services for the aviation sector. The meeting was held from 16 May-3 June 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The GFCS will serve as a platform for dialogue between providers of climate services and users of information, aiming to leverage the billions of dollars invested in climate observation systems and research. The implementation costs of the GFCS are estimated at $75 million per year. The Congress has decided to hold an extraordinary session of the World Meteorological Congress in 2012 to review and adopt the draft implementation plan of the GFCS. The Congress decided that the World Climate Programme will be a programme in the delivery of the GFCS. The Congress also highlighted the need for regional and national climate outlook forums, and called for improving climate data management and analysis tools.

On DRR, the Congress noted that countries are shifting from post-disaster response to multi-sectoral preparedness and prevention. It called for a focus on early warning systems, hazard databases and forecasts. It highlighted the success of the Tropical Cyclone Programme and its ability to assist Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS), as well as initiatives like the Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project, the Hydrology and Water Resources Programme, the Agricultural Meteorology Programme and the Marine Meteorology and Oceanography Programme.

On observing and information systems, the Congress prioritized the WMO Integrated Global Observing System and ensuring that it is operational by 2016. It also highlighted the importance of the WMO Information System for managing and accessing weather, water and climate information, as well as the World Weather Watch and Public Weather Services Programme, the WMO Space Programme, and the Global Atmosphere Watch.

On capacity development, the Congress recommended that the WMO should prepare a cross-cutting capacity development strategy to coordinate and enhance WMO's existing activities. It requested the Executive Council to take the lead in preparing the strategy and implementation plan to provide further focus for WMO's efforts. It called on the WMO to move towards a plan information with goals, timelines and resource requirements, and suggested that the efforts of members to re-establish warning services in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake should be analyzed as a case study for the Strategy. The Congress further approved the Education and Training Standards for Meteorologists and Meteorological Technicians.

On aeronautical meteorological services, the Congress decide to make the Aeronautical Meteorology Programme a high priority, given the rapid growth in air traffic.

On cross cutting activities, the Congress highlighted the need to focus on polar activities, and agreed on a multi-year endeavor to develop a Global Integrated Polar Prediction System, as well as the development of the Global Cryosphere Watch. It agreed to prepare a concept document on the potential International Polar Decade.

The Congress elected David Grimes (Canada) as President of the WMO to succeed outgoing President Alexander Bedritskiy (Russian Federation). It elected Antonio Divino Moura (Brazil) as First Vice-President, Mieczyslaw S. Ostojski (Poland) as Second Vice-President, and Abdalah Mokssit (Morocco) as Third Vice President. It re-appointed Michel Jarraud as Secretary-General of the WMO. [WMO Press Release]