A ten-year programme to strengthen the Pacific region’s ability to anticipate, plan for, and respond to high impact and extreme weather, water, and ocean events, Weather Ready Pacific (WRP), is one of the key items on the agenda for officials at the sixth Meeting of the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC-6) in Nadi, Fiji.
The Weather Ready Pacific Decadal Programme of Investment was developed as a result of a call by the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC). With the support of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), and the Government of Australia through the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) the Weather Ready Pacific Decadal Programme was officially endorsed by the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in 2021.
On day one of the three-day PMC-6, an overview of the WRP Governance Assessment, outlining a proposed roadmap for the operationalisation of the programme, was presented to members for their consideration. Consultant, Patricia Sachs-Cornish provided the Pacific Met Council with some options for the next steps, which the Members have asked for some time to discuss and review.
The Director of Tonga Met Service, Ofa Fa’anunu, laid the foundation by providing a report on the progress made thus far. He reminded that Weather Ready is a critical part of the Pacific’s response to predictions of more intense tropical cyclones, increased heat stress, extreme rainfalls, storm surges, droughts, sea level rise and marine heatwaves.
“The Weather Ready is a game changer in the way we are dealing with events such as cyclones, extreme weather and tsunamis that will continue to affect the lives of the communities we serve,” he said, recommending that the Weather Ready Pacific be established as a programme to coordinate the wider implementation of people-centered end-to-end multi-hazard early warning systems for all Pacific island countries and territories.
The Chair of PMC-6 and the Acting Director of Fiji Meteorological Service, Bipen Prakash, said that one of the key deliverables for PMC-6 is an agreement on the governance process of the Weather Ready Pacific Programme.
“As a region, this is something we really need – no one needs to be convinced of this, we are facing continuous and ever-increasing threats of natural disasters from Tropical Cyclones, floods, droughts as well as events from geo-hazards so Early Warning Systems are a priority for us,” he said.
“We are aiming to have a governance structure agreed to which meets the need of our national meteorological and hydrological services but is also fully transparent to attract donors.”
Pacific Island countries are vulnerable to a wide range of weather, climate and ocean extreme events, including tropical cyclones and typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, drought, storm surges and flash floods.
They have devastating impacts on communities through loss of life and damage to infrastructure, homes, agricultural lands, livelihoods, industries and economies. Climate change is increasing this vulnerability to extreme events by increasing their intensity and/or frequency.
The National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) deliver forecasts and warnings of these events. They are essential to the safety and well-being of Pacific people and communities.
NMHSs strive to improve their services but critical gaps remain in governance arrangements, observation networks, computing and communication equipment, forecasting systems that are variable in approach and quality, and the number and the number of qualified meteorological and technical staff to develop and deliver accurate, localised and impact-based forecasts and warnings.
To address critical gaps and to provide a sustainable and harmonised regional approach, the Weather Ready Pacific is a key part of the response.
WRP has a goal of USD$167million for ten years to implement the work, with the Government of Australia providing initial funding support of AUD$30 million (US$19 million).
The meeting acknowledged the Government of Tonga for presenting the Weather Ready Pacific programme to the Pacific Leaders meeting in 2021, the Government of Australia, Government of New Zealand and Members of the Pacific Met Council for progressing the work of the Weather Ready Pacific Initiative.