Valuing weather, climate, and water services

Panel on Socioeconomic Benefits (PSB)

Established by the seventy-fifth session of the Executive Council through its Decision 17 (EC-75 – Initiatives to advance socioeconomic assessments of weather, climate, and water Services), the WMO Panel on Socioeconomic Benefits (PSB) marks a new era in shaping the collaboration between the broader WMO community, international development partners, and academia to develop activities related to the valuation of weather, climate, and water services and to advocate for changes leading to a more resilient development through a demonstration of benefits that those services bring to the society. 

More information on PSB

Today, the global response to climate change is shifting from awareness to action, but many countries are uncertain about how to build resilience and to help societies to adapt. Almost 85 percent of the 198 Parties to UNFCCC have developed adaptation plans, strategies, or policies. However, only one-third of the Parties have incorporated quantified targets, and even fewer seek to capture outcomes of adaption actions, such as the degree to which societies and economies become more resilient and less vulnerable. In the face of increasing climate risks, the adaptation gap – the difference between a societally set goal and actually implemented adaptation – will widen unless there is greater financial and political support for building resilience. 

From the issuing of early warnings to day-to-day forecasts, improved weather, climate, and water services can support fundamental changes in societies and economies needed to build resilience and achieve just, inclusive, and climate-resilient development. Reliable weather, climate, and water information can contribute to the safety of citizens and households, the protection of property, and enhance economic growth and efficiency. Many governments, particularly in developing countries, however, underestimate the socioeconomic benefits that improved weather, climate, and water services can bring to their societies, which can result in insufficient investments and budget allocations for National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs).  These financial resources are vital for the development, maintenance, and advancement of high-quality and robust services. 

In recognizing that data and analysis have a potential to drive change, the WMO Madrid Conference in 2007 acknowledged that through the development of improved methodologies for the evaluation and demonstration of societal benefits of weather, climate, and water services, we can increase awareness and support for NMHSs. Over 90 percent of recently surveyed respondents from NMHSs considered this type of assessment as very important or important for long-term planning and decision-making, according to a WMO analysis. However, less than 20 percent of NMHSs report to have assessed socioeconomic benefits of their services over the last ten years. Only two out of 30 countries from the Early Warning for All (EW4All) initiative’s initial group of countries have conducted such assessments.

A pie chart showing the percentage of people reporting to naomi.
Data Collection Campaign 2021 Part 05 August 2022 update: WMO Monitoring System (2022); EW4All Rapid Assessment : WMO (2023) Early Warnings for All in Focus: Hazard Monitoring and Forecasting, Results of the Pillar 2 Rapid Assessment, Analytical Brief.

The newly established WMO Office of Economic and Societal Impacts (OESI) has been building on a long-standing history of publishing analytics on socioeconomic impacts of extreme events and benefits of investments in weather, climate, and water services. Following a specific call from the Madrid Action Plan for advancing valuation methodologies, an important milestone was surpassed when a joint flagship report on Valuing Weather and Climate: Economic Assessment of Meteorological and Hydrological Services was published.  With its 10-step procedure, the publication provides a practical guidance for evaluating socioeconomic benefits of hydrometeorological services which encompasses all the phases from establishing the baseline of the assessment to communicating the results of socioeconomic benefit studies.

Looking ahead, we are guided by the WMO vision to see a world where all nations, particularly the most vulnerable, are more resilient to the socioeconomic consequences of extreme weather, climate, water, and other environmental events by 2030. The WMO OESI builds on the Organization’s Strategic Plan for 2024-2027 which puts forward the enhancement of the socioeconomic value of weather, climate, hydrological, and related environmental services as a key overarching priority for the upcoming planning cycle. In particular, the WMO OESI is pursuing a strategic shift away from the ad hoc approach to a more systematic and robust socioeconomic assessment of weather, climate, and water services to help motivate and justify public and private investment, thereby increasing resilience, by aiming to: 

  • Develop a harmonized methodological framework to facilitate socioeconomic assessments of weather, climate and water services;
  • Host national and regional workshops to address the key challenges and share lessons learned in socioeconomic assessments of weather, climate, and water services; and
  • Deliver capacity building to National Meteorological and Hydrological Services at technical and managerial levels.