In her first official mission as WMO secretary-general, Celeste Saulo has held an extensive series of discussions with top-level officials from the United Nations, multilateral development banks and US government departments.
The meetings in Washington and New York sought to strengthen relationships, leverage the power of partnerships and secure increased investment for hydrometeorological services to respond to the cascading challenges of climate change, inequality, poverty and environmental degradation.
Saulo held one-on-one talks with António Guterres, UN secretary-general. She also held discussions with Amina Mohammed, UN deputy secretary-general; Achim Steiner, UN Development Programme administrator; and Selwin Hart, UN assistant secretary-general for climate action. She was joined by Abdulla Al Mandous, president of the WMO, for a meeting with Dennis Francis, president of the UN General Assembly.
According to Saulo, climate action is a priority for WMO. At the meetings she stressed that the organization seeks to strengthen partnerships within the UN system on priority areas including Early Warnings for All and the fledgling Global Greenhouse Gas Watch. WMO will continue to provide relevant scientific information to inform policy on climate-change mitigation and adaptation.
“We stand at the intersection of inequality and climate change, and our strategies must reflect the urgency of our times,” Saulo told a session of the UN Economic and Social Council. “National meteorological and hydrological services present great, untapped potential to turn commitments into action and accelerate delivery across all the Sustainable Development Goals. The global meteorological community has a long history of strong and sustained international cooperation, exchanging science and data and working collaboratively on a near hourly basis for mutual benefit.”
Saulo continued, “But in many developing countries national meteorological and hydrological services do not have the capacity to utilize these shared resources, to maximize the power of prediction and provide tailored services that support food, health, energy and water systems, national infrastructure and cities, which can enhance the economic prosperity of businesses and individuals. I highlight the importance of providing accessible finance to support national meteorological and hydrological services, to enhance tangible delivery across all the SDGs.”
This theme was central to discussions with Juergen Voegele, vice president for sustainable development at the World Bank. The WMO delegation stressed the importance of partnerships, coordination and streamlined procedures to increase the efficiency of financing for development.
Both the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank reiterated their support for Early Warnings for All. WMO works in partnership with development banks and others on key initiatives such as the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems initiative, the Systematic Observations Financing Facility and the Alliance for Hydromet Development.
Mikko Ollikainen, head of the Adaptation Fund, highlighted his organization’s investments in early warning systems, climate services and climate adaptation in general; 18% of its portfolio is committed to disaster risk reduction.
Saulo held discussions with Rabab Fatima, UN high commissioner for small island developing states (SIDS), least developed countries (LDCs) and land-locked developing countries (LLDCs) on the importance of enhancing WMO’s focus and ways of working to better address the needs of countries in special situations.
In Washington, the WMO delegation held discussions with Richard Spinrad, NOAA administrator and Sue Biniaz, the US government’s deputy special envoy for climate, as well as other top officials from USAID and the State Department.
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