Strengthening Climate Adaptation for Africa: Efforts Underway Towards a Global Framework for Climate Services
Geneva, 30 June 2009 (WMO) - Key tools to help countries adapt to climate change will be developed at the World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3), which will take place in Geneva from 31 August to 4 September. The meeting will bring together high-level decision-makers, scientists, policy-makers, and business leaders to initiate a Global Framework for Climate Services to boost climate adaptation.
The Framework will be especially relevant to Africa, a region that is already highly vulnerable to climate change due to water scarcity, strong dependence on agricultural production and high population concentration along the coastal regions. Through the crucial adaptation angle, WCC-3 will feed into the ongoing work on climate change as intensive negotiations continue on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change.
The African continent is greatly impacted by climate variability and change, and the impacts are growing, according to a 2006 report on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation in Africa, released by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and based on data from bodies including the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Changes in the frequency of droughts, heatwaves, floods, storms, frost-freezes and locusts require that the agriculture, water, transport, tourism and health sectors, among others, take adaptation measures to cope with the impacts of climate change. Such actions require improvements in climate and weather monitoring capabilities and better links between climate research and policy-making.
"By enhancing climate services for all communities, the World Climate Conference (WCC-3) will support poverty alleviation through strengthening provision of climate information for food, health and water management decisions, as well as disaster risk reduction. It will therefore contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Hyogo Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction," said Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
"The Conference should result in improved observational networks especially in developing countries; enhanced ability of governments, societies, and institutions to access and use climate prediction and information for adaptation to climate change; and strengthened scientific and technical capabilities to provide more credible and user-oriented climate information and predictions by reinforcing international, national and regional scientific mechanisms," the Prime Minister added.
Accurate and timely climate information helps communities to both identify the risks and to develop strategies for planning ahead. In Botswana, for example, climate models showing the distribution of precipitation in the region are provide early warning of malaria epidemics, aiding public health workers allocate resources.
"National Meteorological and Hydrological Services provide time-critical information that is crucial in key sectors that drive the economy, and in decision-making, to assist vulnerable communities to build resilience to the vagaries of weather and climate," said Joseph R. Mukabana, Director of the Kenya Meteorological Department and Permanent Representative of Kenya to WMO.
The WCC-3 Global Framework for Climate Services will enhance access to user-friendly climate predictions and information to better manage such climate-related risks. It will integrate climate observations, research, assessments and predictions in order to generate information and services required for factoring climate variability and change into socio-economic decision-making. In so doing, the Framework will help efforts to alleviate poverty and hunger in Africa by providing actionable information to boost food security and to help communities prepare for natural hazards.
WCC-3 is organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) with United Nations partners and other international organizations, as well as regional and national partners, and is hosted by Switzerland. It will promote the exchange of practical solutions to address the impacts of climate now and will consider a blueprint for the Global Framework for Climate Services. Currently under consultation by stakeholders at the international and national levels, the Framework is intended to bridge the gap between climate information providers and users.
The Global Framework consists of four main components: a renewed commitment to climate observations and the free and open availability of data; strengthened focus on climate modelling and prediction research; a new Climate Services Information System; and a new Climate Services Application Programme. Through these components, the Framework aims to build capacity in developing countries and to support the application of climate services for climate-resilient development.
The focus on capacity building is especially crucial in Africa, where estimates from the 2006 UNFCCC report indicate that about 25 per cent out of the Global Climate Observing System surface stations in east and southern Africa are not working and most of the remaining stations are functioning in a less than desirable manner.
While the Framework will work to shore up this baseline monitoring, it will also develop an effective interface between the providers and users of climate services, applying existing scientific capabilities to rising challenges for the global society. The move to establish this Framework comes in the wake of the Nairobi Declaration, adopted by 30 African countries, which urges the international community to base increased support for Africa on the priorities for the continent, which include adaptation, capacity-building, financing and technology development and transfer.
WMO has been at the forefront of the climate agenda for the past four decades. The first two World Climate Conferences, in 1979 and 1990, were groundbreaking in their impacts, heralding awareness of climate change and new observational and research capacities to monitor and understand the climate.
"WCC-3 has a transformational ability - enabling society to take full advantage of climate science and meteorological and hydrological information for building green and sustainable socio-economic progress," said Mr Michel Jarraud, WMO Secretary-General.
"Now, there is an urgent need for a major injection of resources into existing international climate programmes and the application of climate predictions and information through the national research and service communities," said Mr John Zillman, Chair of the WCC-3 International Organizing Committee. "As a mechanism to help that happen, WCC-3 is a decade overdue."
WCC-3 will bring together high-level policy-makers, scientists, business leaders and decision-makers at the Geneva International Conference Centre. The Expert Segment from 31 August to 2 September will engage multidisciplinary scientists and experts the world-over in discussions over the current needs and capabilities for climate services. The High-Level Segment from 3 to 4 September is attracting Heads of State and Government, ministers and other senior policy-makers. The High-Level Segment will culminate in the adoption of a declaration, which is expected to endorse the Global Framework for Climate Services.
The Conference is made possible through extra-budgetary contributions to a Trust Fund and in-kind services from sponsors. Contributions and commitments have been received from the Governments of Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Namibia, Norway, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States of America, as well as the European Commission, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme.
WCC-3 will mark a critical point in global efforts toward climate adaptation as the necessary complement to international negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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