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8 July 2021

Amid Climate Crisis, Scaling Up of Reliable Weather Forecast Services, Early Warning Systems Urgently Needed, Secretary-General Says at First Hydromet Gap Report Launch

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the launch of the first Hydromet Gap report, today:

I am pleased to welcome the first Hydromet Gap report.

I thank the 13 member organizations of the Alliance for Hydromet Development for highlighting the urgent need to close the capacity gap on high-quality weather forecasts, early warning systems and climate information.  This is essential for building resilience in the face of climate change.

Frightening heatwaves and other climate events emphasize our growing crisis.  The past decade was the hottest on record.  Greenhouse gases are at levels not seen in 3 million years.  Global temperature has already risen 1.2 degrees Celsius, dangerously close to the agreed 1.5-degree limit.

Weather and climate services, such as early warning systems, are essential and cost-effective adaptation measures.  Just 24 hours warning of a storm or heatwave can reduce harm by 30 per cent.

This first Hydromet Gap report tells us how far we need to go to ensure all people have access to accurate, timely weather and climate information.  It presents the challenges of the complex global and local undertaking required for effective weather and climate forecast services and it proposes priority solutions to scale up hydromet development.

I have called for a breakthrough on adaptation and finance ahead of COP26 [Twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)] in Glasgow this year.  This includes significantly scaling up catastrophe-triggered and forecast-based financial instruments.

But for accurate forecasts, we need reliable weather and climate data.  Today, large gaps remain in basic weather data, particularly in small island developing States and least developed countries.  These affect the quality of forecasts everywhere, particularly in the critical weeks and days when anticipatory actions are most needed.

I have also called on donors, the multilateral development banks and private finance institutions to work with vulnerable countries on the development of innovative financial instruments to support resilience-building.  The share for least developed countries and small island developing States in total climate finance remains small, representing only 14 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.  These countries stand on the front line of the climate crisis.  They need significantly more support.

One of the priority solutions featured in the Hydromet report is the creation of the Systematic Observations Financing Facility.  This can support small island developing States and least developed countries to generate and share the observational data needed for robust weather forecasts and climate impact predictions.

These are essential for early warning.  They provide a foundation for the global climate action essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of the Paris Agreement.  I urge all stakeholders to make use of this report so we can change course towards a sustainable, data-led, resilient future for all.

For information media. Not an official record.