Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
• Results of World Meteorological Congress (Geneva on 15-24 May 2003)
Some 80 percent of all disasters, and 90 percent of the loss of human lives as a result of those disasters, are caused by meteorological and hydrological phenomena, according to WMO data. During the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg in 2002, participants called for measures to reinforce monitoring and early warning systems, particularly to improve flash floods forecasts and make better use of satellite data on extreme meteorological phenomena.
At the 2003 WMO Congress, some 800 delegates from national meteorological and hydrological services worldwide agreed on the importance of reinforcing adverse-event monitoring in order to meet the needs of their fellow citizens and ensure the sustainable development of their countries.
task was to follow up on the progress of the various WMO programmes as
well as elect the organization’s new President, Vice-President and
Executive Council, which is made up by a total of 36 heads of national
meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs). Among the newly elected
members, Central America will be represented by meteorologist Eladio Zárate
Hernández. The director of Costa Rica’s National Meteorological
Institute, he has worked in the field for 32 years.
• Disaster prevention and mitigation;
• A reliable assessment of water resources worldwide;
• Research on
climate change and practical applications of that
• Technical capacity building among NMHSs.
In addition to acknowledging the scientific and technical contributions of the WMO, the Congress outlined the policies and vision that will guide all work in the future.
During his closing speech, outgoing WMO Secretary General G.O.P. Obasi, who is retiring after 20 years in charge of the organization, highlighted “the determination of Congress to pursue, in a forward-looking manner, activities relevant to the sustainable socio-economic development of all countries of the world.”
He added that the “Congress provided guidance on the scientific and technical programmes and agreed on new strategic programmes related to Space, [least developed countries or] LDCs, and disaster mitigation, as well as on a number of issues that will strengthen the capacity of NMHSs, their visibility and the recognition of their role in support of sustainable development.”
In order to carry
out this programme, the WMO will coordinate its efforts with the International
Strategy for Disaster Reduction; it will also reinforce its Tropical Cyclones
Programme. Another step in this direction was the inauguration in January
of the International Centre for Research on the El Niño Phenomenon
(CIIFEN) in Ecuador as a result of a cooperation agreement among the WMO,
the ISDR and the government of Ecuador.
It is necessary to
know how much water is actually available, where it is located and how
stable its sources are. In order to achieve this, countries must establish
or enhance national monitoring networks and databases on water resources,
and produce relevant national indicators.
change and the ozone layer
The continuing degradation of climate observation systems around the world is another matter of concern, particularly the disparities that persist in certain areas of Africa, Asia, the South Pacific and South America.
Participants called on greater support to developing countries regarding the collection, exchange and use of climate data, as well as greater emphasis on poverty relief, food security and disaster prevention.
The Congress asked the WMO to continue with its periodic assessments of greenhouse gases and aerosols as a contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the state parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
exchange of meteorological data and products
As part of this effort, the WMO has been closely following the debate in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on the ownership of databases.
Future articles will outline the programmes and projects underway in Costa Rica as part of national and international meteorological priorities.
For more information