In an opening address to the annual event, Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe underscored the necessity of a comprehensive Hydromet regional network to effectively address climate change-related challenges and support sustainable development.
Reflecting on the urgent need for action, President Wickremesinghe drew attention to the economic repercussions of climate change, citing potential GDP losses of up to 2% in low-income countries. He recounted Sri Lanka’s recent experiences with unexpected rainfall and highlighted the broader regional impacts, including those stemming from the melting of the Himalayas.
The forum, from 6-8 February, is bringing together more than 200 stakeholders to increased regional synergies to improve hydromet and early warning services and build resilience in South Asia.
“Meteorological, hydrological, and climatological events impose a heavy human toll and significant economic losses. Between 1970 and 2021, over 2 million reported deaths and $4.3 trillion in economic losses resulted from weather, climate, and water extremes,” WMO Secretary-General Celeste Saulo said in a video message.
“Developing countries bear the brunt of these losses, both in terms of human lives and economic impact. Recognizing the immense benefits of meteorological information and services, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services play a pivotal role in delivering timely inputs to various sectors,” she said.
Early Warnings for All
Celeste Saulo urged countries in the region to rally behind the Early Warnings for All initiative, co-led by WMO and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. This strives to ensure that everyone is covered by early warning services by 2027.
She welcomed the strong support from partners in the region for WMO's vision of a resilient world by 2030 and praised the commitment from the World Bank's Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, evident through the South Asia Hydromet Forum and related regional programs.
As the proverb wisely states, "If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." Through collaborative efforts, I am confident that we will achieve lasting progress,” she said.
To date, three conferences have been held to bring key stakeholders together and discuss ways to deepen collaboration. The meeting in Colombo brings together representatives from hydrometeorological, early warning and climate service providers, as well as user sectors, development agencies, regional and global research institutions, and academia.
The conference is a collaborative effort between the World Bank, the United Kingdom Met Office, the Regional Integrated Multi-hazard and Early Warning System and WMO, with financing from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
Find out more about the South Asia Hydromet Forum