An estimated 23,000 lives per year could be saved and up to $2 billion in economic losses averted by improving weather forecasts, early warning systems, and climate information in low- and middle-income countries, according to a new report issued by the Alliance for Hydromet Development.
The report is presented by leaders of the Alliance, which brings together the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and international development, humanitarian and financial institutions, including the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Known as hydromet, reliable and accurate weather and climate services, such as early warning systems, create benefits worth at least ten times their costs and are vital to building resilience to extreme weather. And yet, only 40 per cent of countries currently have effective multi-hazard early warning systems in place, and large gaps remain in the vital underpinning observations data upon which these services depend.
“The first Hydromet Gap Report tells us how far we have to go to ensure all people have access to accurate, timely, weather and climate information. It presents the challenges of the complex global and local undertaking required for effective weather and climate forecast services and proposes priority solutions to scale up hydromet development,” secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, said at the virtual launch event.
While reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains essential, Guterres has called for a breakthrough on adaptation and resilience in 2021, with significant increases in the volume and predictability of adaptation finance. Such a breakthrough is vital to ensure all people, especially the most vulnerable, can adapt and be more resilient to the consequences of inevitable future weather and climate events
“Our climate is rapidly changing. The past decade was the hottest on record. Global mean temperature is approximately 1.2 °C warmer than pre-industrial times. We are far off track from reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to avert the worst impacts of climate change and limit temperature rise to within 1.5 °C in line with the Paris Agreement,” said WMO secretary-general, Prof. Petteri Taalas.
“Science-based, data-driven weather and climate services are the foundation for effective adaptation measures,” Taalas observed.
“While the contribution of developing countries to greenhouse gas emissions is limited, the impacts of disasters from climate-related weather events are three times higher than in high-income countries. Accurate weather forecasts and robust climate prediction is critical for adaptation policy and investment decisions,” President of Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, stated.
Policy makers, planners, farmers all need better and reliable climate information in real time. Many developing countries, including several in Africa, do not have the capacity to generate basic weather and climate observation data.
“The Alliance partnership is important to the bank and to Africa. It offers a platform to strengthen resilient development and climate adaptation through improved ground-based observing systems, leading to better weather forecasts of extreme events and climate prediction services,” AfDB president, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said in a message.
A statement by Emeka Anuforo, communication and external relations department, AfDB, said the Alliance for Hydromet Development was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, in Madrid. The Alliance members collectively committed to unite and scale up efforts to close the capacity gap on high-quality weather, climate, hydrological, and related environmental services as the foundation for resilient and sustainable development.