WMO appoints new Executive Management members

29 January 2024

The World Meteorological Organization has appointed Ko Barrett as Deputy Secretary-General and Thomas Asare as Assistant Secretary-General, cementing a new Executive Management team under the leadership of Secretary-General Celeste Saulo. 

Key messages
  • WMO completes top management team under Secretary-General Celeste Saulo
  • Ko Barrett named as Deputy Secretary-General
  • Thomas Asare named as Assistant Secretary-General
  • WMO Executive Council confirms appointments

Ko Barrett is currently the senior advisor for climate at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is a former Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Thomas Asare is Comptroller and Director, Division of Financial and Administrative Management at UNICEF.

Ko Barrett and Thomas Asare
Ko Barrett, WMO Deputy Secretary-General (left), with Thomas Asare, WMO Assistant Secretary-General.

“The new Executive Management of WMO will lead our organization as we fulfil our responsibilities to shape the narrative on climate action, to empower nations, and to create more sustainable pathways for the future,” said WMO Secretary-General Celeste Saulo.

“It is vital that WMO can deliver timely, actionable and authoritative scientific information to inform policy makers and to support society as we face up to humanity’s biggest challenge – the climate crisis,” she said.

“I am confident that the new Executive Management team combines the necessary expertise and experience to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the WMO Secretariat. The regional, professional and academic diversity of WMO’s leadership will ensure we deliver the best possible service to our 193 Member states and territories,” she said.

Celeste Saulo became WMO’s first female Secretary-General at the start of 2024. An Argentinian national, she is the first person from Latin America to hold the position. She leads WMO in an era when the impacts of climate change and extreme weather are increasing exponentially, as are the needs for the expertise of the WMO community in saving lives and livelihoods.

The Executive Council met in extraordinary session to confirm the new appointments. It was the only agenda item on the hybrid meeting. The meeting was chaired by WMO President Abdulla Al Mandous.

Top Priorities

The new WMO Executive Management will be responsible for implementing WMO’s top priorities. These include the global expansion of Early Warning Services to protect everyone on Earth from hazardous weather and so support climate adaptation, as well as the envisaged development of a new Global Greenhouse Gas Watch to inform climate change mitigation.

In order to achieve this, there is a need to strengthen observations and data exchange which underpin reliable and accessible weather forecasts and to harness the potential of artificial intelligence.

The WMO leadership will seek to leverage collaboration between science and education, strengthen public-private partnerships and facilitate access to climate financing. It aims to intensify support to regions and countries, especially those grappling with developmental challenges.

The new appointments reflect WMO’s commitment to geographical diversity, gender balance, inclusivity and transparency both at Geneva headquarters and in regional offices.

WMO Deputy Secretary-General

A woman smiling at camera.
Ko Barrett, WMO Deputy Secretary-General

Ko Barrett is currently Senior Advisor for Climate at NOAA.

She was IPCC Vice-Chair from December 2015 until July 2023. Prior to this she has held senior positions in NOAA such as Deputy Assistant Administrator Research, Deputy Director, Climate Program Office, Acting Division Chief, Climate Assessment and Services Division, and Associate Director for International Affairs.

As NOAA's foremost authority on climate, Ko Barrett serves as the agency's representative in a wide spectrum of intra-agency, inter-agency, and international dialogues and initiatives aimed at advancing climate action.

She has also held positions in the US Department of State as Senior Climate Change Adviser and Climate Change Negotiator and in USAID as Director, USAID's Global Climate Change Program.

She has over 30 years of experience in the domains of climate, atmospheric and environmental research and services. She is familiar with the work of the WMO and UN communities.

Ko Barrett will guide the effective management of WMO’s technical departments and related programmes ensuring coordinated and consistent interdepartmental work. She will enhance the efficiency and visibility of WMO Regional Offices in relations with governments.

WMO Assistant Secretary-General

A man in a suit and tie poses for a photo.
Thomas Asare, Assistant Secretary-General

Thomas Asare is currently the Comptroller and the Director of the Division of Financial and Administrative Management in UNICEF.

Prior to this, Mr. Asare was the Director of Programming, Budgeting, Finance and Accounting at the African Union. He also has worked in various finance-related functions in government, private sector, and non-governmental organizations.

Mr. Asare possesses a wealth of senior experience in the areas of finance, budget, administration, and good governance of international organizations. He holds two masters degrees in accounting and finance and audit management and consultancy.

The WMO Assistant Secretary-General is responsible for ensuring the operation of the organization's overall corporate strategic direction and administration.

This includes overseeing the management of regular budget and extrabudgetary resources, finance, risk management, corporate IT, human resources, conferences, linguistic services, travel, procurement, and facilities management.

WMO Executive Council

The Executive Council comprises a President, three Vice-Presidents, the six Regional Association Presidents and 27 Directors of National Meteorological or Hydrometeorological Services elected by Congress. 

The new Executive Management team succeeds Petteri Taalas (Secretary-General), Elena Manaenkova (Deputy Secretary-General) and Wenjian Zhang (Assistant Secretary-General), who completed their terms in office.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for promoting international cooperation in atmospheric science and meteorology.

WMO monitors weather, climate, and water resources and provides support to its Members in forecasting and disaster mitigation. The organization is committed to advancing scientific knowledge and improving public safety and well-being through its work.

For further information, please contact:

  • Clare Nullis WMO media officer cnullis@wmo.int +41 79 709 13 97
  • WMO Strategic Communication Office Media Contact media@wmo.int