WMO reforms in full speed

WMO reforms in full speed

Mr. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), is determined to modernize the organization. The aim is to develop a more open and efficient structure that delivers tangible benefits both to the WMO member countries as well as to the Planet Earth as a whole.

Photo by Malachy Harty

Petteri Taalas was re-elected to the leadership of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) at the WMO Congress in Geneva in mid-June. The unanimous choice demonstrated the strong confidence and support that the Member States give to the improvements that he has initiated.

"Reforming the organization has been one of my greatest goals when I initially decided to enter in the race for the position as Secretary-General," Mr. Taalas confirms.

Taalas proposed a new working model with two committees for the organization: one entity dealing with weather, climate, water resources, oceans, atmospheric chemical behavior related infrastructures and the other providing weather, climate, water and ocean services to Member States according to a multi-hazard principle. General Assembly approved the new two-committee model proposed by Taalas in June. 

In addition, WMO wants to develop its collaboration with the world's leading scientists and scientific communities.

“We have just set up two new scientific bodies at WMO to develop our weather, water, and climate services on the basis of the latest scientific results with the task to innovate new creative working methods,” Taalas explains.

He also calls for a closer involvement by other UN organizations (including World Bank, UNDP, WHO, FAO, ICAO, IMO, UNEP, and UNESCO) in WMO operations.


Cooperation with the Private Sector 

WMO carries out its practical work in cooperation with national meteorological and hydrological institutes, universities, and the private sector in the Member States. “WMO’s role is to coordinate the cooperation and ensure its effectiveness. Our network includes more than 200,000 people who are executing our work globally,” explains Taalas.

He also wants to intensify cooperation with the private sector as part of the reform: “Traditionally, we have collaborated mainly with equipment manufacturers, but today, to give you an example, digital service providers have become important partners. The rapid development of artificial intelligence and the use of big data also opens up new opportunities for us.”

Combatting climate change is boosting the growth of the private sector. 

“In the US, the jobs created by companies offering the weather services have tripled over the last twenty years while the number of public sector jobs has remained stable. In Europe, Japan and China, too, the industry is growing but more moderately,” he adds.

Taalas mentions that public sector investments are often more beneficial when the private sector is involved in the process. "For example, the German Weather Service is working closely with the private sector on how to run the new energy system based on renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and hydropower, and fossil energy and nuclear power in the most efficient way."

On the other hand, it is essential also for the private sector to ensure that the publicly funded global weather observation systems are sustainable and of high quality.

"It is my wish to increase the involvement of WMO in this kind of public-private partnerships," Taalas confirms.