WMO participates in Sustainable Development Goals meetings

25 July 2023

WMO experts actively participated in meetings at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to discuss progress and means of accelerating the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), held from 10 to 19 July under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, lay the foundations for countries to come together in September for the SDG Summit, marking the half-way point of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

This year’s HLPF included an in-depth review of Sustainable Development Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation, 7 on affordable and clean energy, 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and 17 on partnerships for the Goals. Although, the interconnectedness of all of the SDGs was a recurring theme throughout.

Weather, climate and water science, technology and services play an important cross-cutting role in supporting the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals, including those being reviewed in-depth. The important contributions WMO Members can play in this regard was highlighted through many of the sessions.

UN Sustainable Development

SDG 6 on Clean Water – At the recent UN Water Conference UN SG, Member States and others called for several game-changing, inclusive and action-orientated commitments. One of these was to design and implement a new global water information system to guide plans and priorities by 2030, and to acceleration action on SDG 6.

WMO and partners have committed to help answer this call through the implementation of the Hydrological Status and Outlook System and Reporting (HydroSOS), which is already being implemented in 50 countries around the world. A HLPF side event was organized by WMO to present HydroSOS, demonstrating how it helps countries to provide globally consistent water information services that empower national and international water management needs and catalyze transboundary cooperation through trustful water assessments and outlooks.

The benefits of this system to support the achievement of other SDGs, such as SDG2 on Zero Hunger, and SDG 13 on Climate Action, were also highlighted. Synergies were also discussed at the 4th Climate and SDGs Conference, held on Sunday 16 July, on the margins of HLPF, where the important role of water data and information to support the transition to renewables was recognized.

SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy – Energy systems are markedly affected by more frequent and intense meteorological and hydrological events and are increasingly exposed to vagaries of weather and climate. As renewable energy sources grow as a proportion of our overall energy mix, the vulnerability of energy systems to weather, climate and water fluctuations increases further, in terms of dictating clean energy availability, the efficiency of energy operations, and in driving energy demand.

Weather and Climate Services for energy are vital for supporting energy systems. They are crucial for informing site selection for wind, solar and hydro systems, and they support daily operations, week-to-week planning, multi-year resource and risk management, and the multi-decadal design of future energy systems.

Last year’s WMO State of Climate Services report, focusing on Energy, showed that less than 50% of Members provide tailored weather, climate and water products for the energy sector.  Those that do exist need to be better tailored to end users. Improved observational networks and data sharing are also required. The report also showed there is a huge opportunity for Africa to close the gap in the global need for renewable energy.  Africa is home to 60% of the best solar resources globally, yet only 1% of installed PV capacity. To achieve SDG7, it is clear that energy policies need to improve the resilience of energy systems to climate change and promote the transition to net zero, including by scaling up weather, water and climate services.

SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities – Towns and cities face several urban risks and challenges related to extreme weather, climate, and water events. From urban heat island effects to flash flooding and air pollution, many of these issues are becoming more frequent and severe in the face of human-induced climate change. Cities are also significant drivers of climate change, responsible for about 70% of carbon emissions from energy consumption.

The unique set of risks associated with urban areas requires a holistic approach in their consideration from the scientific, technological and service provision point of view. In response to the New Urban Agenda, and to support the achievement of SDG11, WMO continues the development Integrated Urban Hydrometeorological, Climate, and Environmental Services. “Integrated Urban Services” refers to the provision of WMO Member weather, climate, hydrology, and air quality information for decision making (based on science, observations, data exchange and predictions). These services may be provided directly through National Hydrometeorological Services or indirectly through partners in the public, private and civil society sectors.

SDG 17 on partnerships – Partnerships are fundamental to the way WMO works, exemplified by the Early Warnings for All initiative, which is co-led by WMO and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction in response to UNSG’s call to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warnings by 2027. Early Warnings for All is organized around four pillars of the Multi-Hazard Early Warning System value chain. The four pillars are led by WMO, UNDRR, International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Inter and intra level partnerships are also key to how each pillar works.

The importance of science-based data and information for policy makers was highlighted through the first ever HLPF Science Day, held on Saturday 15 July. Discussions focused on how science-based services can accelerate implementation on the SDGs, and the need for two-way communication with the science community when policy makers to be able to interrogate that information so they can make better decisions.

Several side discussions also focused on how national statistics can better record the impact of severe weather, climate, and water events, to improve WMO reporting and the demonstration of socioeconomic benefits of WMO Members services.

It was clear throughout HLPF that the WMO community has much to offer to support the acceleration of implementation of the sustainable development goals, in several concrete ways. These themes will be further highlighted through the upcoming SDG Summit and Climate Ambition Summit in New York, in September.