Jamaica hosts WMO regional conference

06 February 2023

A WMO Regional Conference “Increasing weather, water and climate resilience in North America, Central America and the Caribbean” takes place in Kingston, Jamaica, from 6 to 9 February 2023, gathering together Directors of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and technical  experts from  23 countries,  as well as partner and financial institutions and representatives of the private sectors.

The meeting will discuss operational and strategic aspects related with the meteorological and hydrological observing networks, data exchange, provision on services  and ways to ensure the  sustainability of these infrastructures and related operations. During the second day, a special session on weather, climate and water services will be organized and this will be the occasion to present the “Early Warnings for All Initiative, with interventions from WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas, and Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Conference was opened by the Honourable Matthew Samuda, member of the Cabinet  of  the  Ministry on Economic Growth and Job Creation of Jamaica, Mr. Evan Thompson, Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica and Dr. Wenjian Zhang, WMO Assistant Secretary-General.

For Small Island Developing States like Jamaica, natural hazards have exposed our socio-cultural and environmental vulnerabilities, and have highlighted the urgent need to rethink disaster management options, said Mr Samuda.

"Indeed, Jamaica, is among the countries considered to be the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.  A decade ago, in 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its report, projected that our capital city, Kingston, would be among the first places on Earth to see a significant increase in temperature which could occur as early as 2023.  Well, it is no longer a future prediction as we ARE in 2023.    This means that every year after this year, could produce higher average temperatures than any previous year on record for the past 150 years. This represents a serious threat to human society and ecosystems alike," said Mr Samuda.

"The features of the island itself, put it at risk for the impacts of climate change.  These include its geographical location in what is traditionally viewed as a hurricane and earthquake belt, as well as physical structure and a heavy dependence on natural resources for economic and social activities. However, the Global Commission on Adaptation reported in 2019, that notice of an impending hazardous event, within a 24-hour time period, can cut the ensuing damage by 30 percent," he said.

WMO Regional Conference group photo
WMO Regional Conference “Increasing weather, water and climate resilience in North America, Central America and the Caribbean”. Kingston, Jamaica (6 - 9 February 2023)

The Regional Conference will also review the ongoing cooperation and financial mechanisms to support the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services such as the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF), The Climate Risk Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Caribbean project and other relevant and merging opportunities.

Mr Samuda said that SOFF is a critical tool that LDC’s and SIDS can utilize in the goal of increasing sustainable development and strengthening climate resilience, with access to improved weather forecasts and climate analysis products, which are critical for managing extreme weather events.

"All sectors stand to benefit from the SOFF, particularly agriculture and tourism which rely heavily on weather data. There can be no question therefore that this facility will be a key element in the mitigation and prevention of climate related events, which have the ability to derail our economic and social growth and development," said Mr Samuda. 

The Conference and expected outputs are critical for the region considering the overall social and economic challenges, the recovery process after pandemics and the global context. An enhanced coordination and intra-regional cooperation will be key mechanisms to enhance essential early warning services and contribute with the Sustainable Development Goals with emphasis in the reduction of adverse climate-weather and water adverse impacts and  increase resilience.

The Jamaican Government has played a leadership role in the region, with explicit messages and call for action during COP 27 by Minister Samuda and by the relevant contribution of Jamaican Meteorological Service in WMO Regional activities through the Presidency of the WMO Regional Association IV with Mr. Evan Thompson. This leadership has made possible to consolidate the mutual assistance and cooperation between the NMHS from the region and executing a pragmatic Regional Implementation Plan bringing new opportunities for Central America and the Caribbean regions.

To follow Day 1 of the conference, click here

To follow Day 2 of the conference, click here

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