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The importance of Climate Services

Welcome participants, especially Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, Anton Eliassen, Director of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and Jan Egeland, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch.

Congratulate Jarraud for the success of the Extraordinary Congress last year in adopting the Global Framework Implementation Plan and the Intergovernmental Board on Climate Services. Thank Egeland for an excellent job as co-chair of the High Level Task force on the Globale Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). Appreciate the important work of Anton Eliassen – he is a frontrunner when it comes to climate services. Weather data on yr.no is free, and used by people all over the world (Uganda, Bangladesh, Niger, Vietnam).

I’m sure that the number one conversation topic worldwide is the weather. It interests everybody. The world’s weather chief, Mr Jarraud, will soon give us an update on the state of the world’s climate – I look forward to that! For the past decade the weather has been especially wild and unpredictable with many severe weather events. This is something we also notice in Norway. Rainfall has increased substantially (20 % over the past 100 years), and we have experienced more floods and storms.

But again, we are the lucky ones. The most severe consequences are not felt in Norway. We have enough money to adapt and prepare. The burden is borne by poor people in developing countries. An additional weight to the ones they already carry. 96 % of the deaths from extreme events the past 40 years or so happened in developing countries, most of them women and children.

People in many parts of the world are used to tough weather and either too much or too little water; and they have learnt how to adapt to such changes. But the changes experienced during the past decade in many regions are beyond what poor and vulnerable people can cope with. They are already fighting every day for their livelihood.

We have to expect and prepare for wilder and more frequent extreme events the next decades, but we don’t know how strong they will become, or how often they will hit. The uncertainty and unpredictability may be the scariest part. To illustrate: The World Bank describes a future scenario of 4 degrees warming. It took a little more than 4 degrees of cooling to create the Ice Age. Scientists say that the Russian heat wave of 2010 that caused 11,000 deaths in Moscow alone, and the French heat wave in 2003 with over 15,000 deaths, is something we will have to get used to.

This is an alarming scenario, and we have to prepare to avoid the worst impacts. So far the success of international negotiations on climate change has been limited. Countries’ reductions pledges under the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change are far from sufficient. Scientists have estimated that we must expect a warming of about 4 degrees or maybe as much as 6 degrees by the end of the century if we continue the emissions path that we are on.

The Global Framework for Climate Services was launched three years ago. We now have agreed on an implementation plan and an Intergovernmental Board on Climate Services [which Secretary-General Jarraud will tell us more about].

The Global Framework is an important tool and will be vital for the work to adapt to climate change and to prevent climate related disasters. We are confident that investing in climate data and climate services will prove to be a sound investment. The main purpose of the Framework is to improve weather and climate information, and provide user-friendly climate services to those who need it most. This is vital in our endeavours to adapt to climate change, prevent disasters and thereby save lives.

My predecessor (Erik Solheim) signed an agreement with Mr Jarraud in Durban in 2011 on our contribution of 10 million USD for the Global Framework. The money is used for strengthening weather and climate services in Africa, including providing sms-messages with weather information to fishermen and farmers in Uganda.

Norway is proud to be one of the main contributors to the Framework, as we more than ever see the need for it to secure sustainable development and promote resilience in vulnerable regions. Not least, the Framework will contribute to even out the uneven distribution of information and means of protection that leads to even bigger differences between rich and poor in the world.

MFA arranges this seminar together with WMO, Met.no, NORAD and CICERO. I wish to thank them for their efforts in realising this seminar. Cooperation is key also for the success of the Global Framework. Across disciplines, across UN agencies and organisations, across borders and across economic and social layers. Knowing that so many UN agencies have expressed support and willingness to cooperate under the framework, warms the heart of a Norwegian politician having “UN delivering as one” high on the agenda.

We need to spread the word even further. It is crucial that other donors and contributors join our efforts to make available user-friendly climate services globally! We need all of you in this effort; journalists, academics, politicians, practitioners, activists, bureaucrats, private sector, taxpayers…

I believe it is now time for more concrete action, and that is why Norway will step up its support to work under the framework. One important task ahead is strengthening weather and climate information systems in developing countries; another one is creating and strengthening partnerships to ensure that the climate services provided are designed so that they meet the needs of the users. From the fisherman on the lake and the farmer in the field, to the city planner, the malaria doctor and the humanitarian aid organisation.

I am therefore proud to announce today that we have decided to contribute an additional 10 million USD for a three-year programme on climate services and adaptation, in particular related to food security and health in Africa. The goal is to ensure that weather and climate information is translated into relevant and user friendly climate services, and that they reach the poorest populations who need them most. We wish to facilitate this through promoting new partnerships. We therefore invite organisations represented here today to take part in this programme.

The success of the Global Framework depends on the efforts put into it by all relevant organisations and institutes all over the world. Norway stands ready to contribute in the process ahead. We hope you do to. We need all of you – broad participation and partnerships is the key to success. So, let’s stop talking about the weather, let’s start preparing for changes!

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