WMO mission to USA seeks to leverage power of partnerships

03 شباط/ فبراير 2024

In her first official mission as WMO Secretary-General, Celeste Saulo has held an extensive series of discussions with top-level officials from the United Nations, multilateral development banks and US government departments.

Heralding a new era of WMO leadership, the meetings in Washington and New York seek to strengthen relationships, leverage the power of partnerships and secure increased investment for hydrometeorological services in order to respond to the cascading challenges of climate change, inequality, poverty and environmental degradation.

Celeste Saulo held one-on-one talks with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. She also held discussions with Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, UN Development Programme administrator Achim Steiner and Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Action Selwin Hart. She was joined by WMO President Abdulla Al Mandous for a meeting with President of the General Assembly Dennis Francis.

Climate Action is a priority for WMO, which seeks to strengthen partnerships within the UN system on priority areas including Early Warnings for All and the fledgling Global Greenhouse Gas Watch. WMO will continue to provide relevant scientific information to inform policy on climate change mitigation and adaptation, she stressed at the meetings.

“We stand at the intersection of inequality and climate change, and our strategies must reflect the urgency of our times,” Celeste Saulo told a session of the UN Economic and Social Council.  

She said she was committed to unleashing the potential of the entire WMO community to speed progress on the interconnected global agendas on climate change, sustainable development and disaster risk reduction.

“National Meteorological and Hydrological Services present a great, untapped potential to turn commitments into action, and accelerate delivery across all the Sustainable Development Goals. The global meteorological community have a long history of strong and sustained international cooperation, exchanging science, data and working collaboratively on a near hourly basis for mutual benefit,” she said.

Abdulla Al Mandous, Richard W. Spinrad and Celeste Saulo
Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, President of WMO (Left), Dr Richard W. Spinrad, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere & NOAA Administrator (Middle), and Professor Celeste Saulo, Secretary-General, WMO (Right), visit the NOAA office in Maryland.

Development financing

“But in many developing countries National Meteorological and Hydrological Services do not have the capacity to utilize these shared resources, to maximise the power of prediction, and provide tailored services that support food, health, energy, and water systems, national infrastructure, and cities, which can enhance economic prosperity of businesses and individuals;” said Celeste Saulo.

“I highlight the importance of providing accessible finance to support National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, to enhance tangible delivery across all the SDGs.”

This theme was central to discussions with Juergen Voegele, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank. The WMO delegation stressed the importance of partnerships, coordination and streamlined procedures to increase the efficiency of financing for development.

Both the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank reiterated their support for Early Warnings for All. WMO works in partnership with the development banks and others on key initiatives such as the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems initiative, the Systematic Observations Financing Facility and the Alliance for Hydromet Development.

Adaptation Fund head Mikko Ollikainen highlighted their significant investments in early warning systems, climate services and generally climate adaptation – with 18% of its portfolio committed to disaster risk reduction. It is therefore a critical source of WMO funding to support developing countries.

Celeste Saulo discussed the importance of enhancing WMO’s focus and ways of working to better address the needs of countries in special situations with Ms Rabab Fatima, UN High Commissioner for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Land-locked Developing Countries (LLDCs).

In Washington, the WMO delegation held discussions with Richard Spinrad, NOAA Administrator and Sue Biniaz, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate, as well as other top officials from USAID and the State Department. The United States is the largest financial contributor to WMO and is a major donor in projects to strengthen early warnings for floods, in sustaining and enhancing the Flash Flood Guidance System.

Photographs of Celeste Saulo’s mission are available.