23rd March every year marks the World Meteorological Day (WMD), commemorating the coming into force on 23 March 1950, of the Convention establishing the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WMD is celebrated worldwide to showcase the essential contribution of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) to the safety and wellbeing of society.
This year, the Day is commemorated under the theme; “The Sun, the Earth and the Weather”, takingcognisant of the fact that the Sun is the heart of our solar system and delivers the energy to keep our planet warm enough for all life on Earth and that it is the driving force behind the weather, ocean currents, hydrological cycle and climate. Additionally, the 2019 theme highlights topical weather, climate or water-related issues, emphasising the core purpose of WMO and the essential role of NMHSs in monitoring the Earth System in order to deliver daily weather forecasts and advise policy makers about climate variability and change.
The provision of weather and climate information is recognised by SADC as an integral part to support the implementation of regional integration. Guided by the Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology (1996) and the World Meteorological Organisation Strategic Plan, SADC ensures that regional and national meteorological agencies generate and disseminate timely and credible weather and climate information and products to stakeholders to support planning for socio-economic development, weather related disaster risk management and the rational use, conservation and protection of natural resources.
As we commemorate the 2018 World Meteorological Day, we take note that the SADC region has made great strides, including by setting up the SADC Climate Services Centre, a specialised Centre of Excellence based in Gaborone, Botswana, which provides timely weather and climate services. Information provided by the SADC Climate Services Centre has proved to be critically important in strategic planning for multi-sectoral socio-economic development in areas such as water resource management, health, agriculture and food security, energy production and Disaster Risk Reduction. SADC is also implementing the Southern African Regional Climate Information Services for Disaster Resilience Development Project. The overall objective of the project is to increase the capability of SADC countries to respond to climate-induced disasters and to reduce loss of lives and property.
On this World Meteorological Day, we call for improved production and dissemination of Climate Information Services in the region. We also call for accelerated uptake of Weather and Climate Information Services in an enabling environment that strengthens knowledge frameworks and fosters partnerships between public institutions, private sector, civil society and vulnerable communities.