UN-backed meeting urges governments, scientists to bolster climate predictions

6 February 2008 – Nearly two dozen organizations at a United Nations-sponsored meeting have stressed the importance of governments and scientists worldwide to improve climate prediction capabilities to save lives and protect economies.

“The world needs to strengthen existing mechanisms that predict climatic events and then ensure that this information is made available to all, especially to the benefit of people in least developed countries,” said Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“Improving the science of seasonal prediction will help everyone.”

Several UN-backed climate prediction centres using powerful computer models exist, but improvements to these could improve global responses to climate variability and extremes.

The three-day gathering in Geneva sought to prepare for the third-ever World Climate Conference, set to be held next year in Switzerland.

The previous Conferences have been major events: the first, in 1979, led to the creation in 1988 of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize; and the second, in 1990, helped to generate momentum towards the establishment of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992.

Next year’s Conference will focus on climate prediction and its impact on decision-making.

It will examine “what type of science is needed over the next 10 years to provide the type of seasonal predictions that can save people’s lives and livelihoods,” Mr. Jarraud observed.


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