A new White Paper on the Future of National Meteorological or Hydrometeorological Services: Evolving roles and responsibilities was presented at a high-level session of the Open Consultative Platform on the opening day of the annual WMO Executive Council on 20 June.
The White Paper provides comprehensive analysis of evolving societal needs and observed trends in the technological and operational ecosystems in which NMSs operate. It presents key messages and recommendations to enable better governance choices, based on an assessment by a team of 30 experts led by WMO President Gerhard Adrian.
“The ability of NMHSs to adapt to such changing conditions and to benefit from new technologies will require agility, foresight and change management,” Prof Adrian told the third high-level session of the Open Consultative Platform.
“NMSs therefore must continually evolve to become more efficient, more effective and higher performing, to remain relevant and competitive, and to fulfil their public safety mandate. In doing so, NMHSs should focus on increasing the benefits of partnerships and collaborate widely across the public and private sectors, as well as with central and regional governments,” he said.
In recent years, WMO policies and strategies have guided the evolution of NMHSs’ role and operation to reflect changing circumstances, including the Geneva Declaration 2019: Building Community for Weather, Climate and Water Actions on public-private engagement, the Earth-system approach strategy, and the WMO Unified Data Policy. These embrace the principle of multi-disciplinary cooperation, new partnership mechanisms, and institutional and technological changes
“WMO Secretary-General recalled the major decision of Members made at the 18th World Meteorological Congress in 2019 to open the door and to take ownership of public-private partnership in the field of meteorology. He emphasized that there is no one-size-fits-all on how the public-private engagement should be carried out at national level as there are different models across countries. He foresees great opportunities for increased services will emerge through partnership between public and private sectors, and the private sector could play growing role along the value chain from observation to service delivery. He reaffirms that public safety-related weather, climate and water service should remain the core mandate of government to which legal basis at national level should provide support.,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
The White Paper and the high-level consultative platform issued a number of key messages:
- The rapidly changing environment has underlined the need for policies and legislation, including national regulation.
- Legal and policy frameworks also ensure that NMHSs will be regarded as vital components of national resilience and as the authoritative source of relevant data and information. They provide a clear legal basis and consistent rules for meteorological services.
- There is a need to institutionalize sustained funding for operations.
- NMHSs, research and the private sector continue to benefit mutually from their individual strengths through partnerships, jointly enhancing the overall societal benefits offered.
- Opportunities for innovative public-private partnerships around the use of technology are expanding in different parts of the value chain, for example:
- Around ownership/operation of core high-performing computing infrastructure (HPC), software;
- To improve research for weather/climate/environment challenges;
- To improve applicability and usefulness of data for users downstream;
- To improve access to digital skills for NMHSs;
- Automated observations, to free personnel resources for more value-added tasks in the core mission of the NMHS.
The White Paper and Open Consultative Platform stressed that NMHSs must continually evolve and emphasize how they serve socioeconomic needs; develop digital strategies and research avenues.
- The NMHS Director role is now even more outward looking, to help facilitate win-win partnerships with other government agencies and the private sector, so that the impact and value of the NMHS can be better understood and realized.
- With the new WMO Unified Data Policy, NMHS directors have the opportunity to redefine the importance of the NMHS as the hub for reliable, rapid and unrestricted foundational data distribution.
It highlighted the need to make successful arguments for partnerships and free and unrestricted data exchange. This is based on the principle that one must share to receive.
“Our ability to monitor and forecast weather/environment for our nation, and which generates billions of dollars of annual revenue, is completely based on our ability to access international data when we need it, in a format that we can use, and with the necessary assurances that we can trust it. Must share to receive,” was the last key recommendation.