New UN Finance Programme to Fuel Climate Action Goes Live
Yesterday marked the official launch of a new financial instrument led by the United Nations to increase weather and climate forecasting, improve life-saving early warning systems, save jobs, and support climate adaptation for long-term resilience.
The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) is a crucial component of a new initiative led by UN Secretary-General General António Guterres to ensure that early warning services are available to everyone on the planet within the next five years.
SOFF strives to solve the persistent issue of insufficient weather forecasting and climate services, particularly in LDCs and small island developing states (SIDS).
In support of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the WMO will improve the international response to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius "by bridging data gaps that impede our understanding of the climate," according to a news statement.
These deficiencies hinder the ability of national authorities to predict and adapt to extreme weather events like floods, droughts, and heatwaves, which are all on the rise due to a warming climate.
WMO, UNDP, and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) heads joined ministers from donor countries, LDC Group members, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) officials, and development partners for the first SOFF Steering Committee meeting in Helsinki on Thursday to get the facility up and running.
“As the climate crisis worsens, we must boost the power of prediction for everyone so countries can reduce disaster risk," said the UN chief.
“That is why we have launched an initiative to ensure that every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within the next five years. SOFF is an essential tool to achieve this. I thank all the countries that are providing initial funding to the SOFF UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund and urge others to do the same."
“Early warning systems are built on the foundation of weather observation data, but this foundation is patchy to non-existent in many LDCs and African countries,” stated Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Just Transition.
“I want to congratulate all the countries that have come forward and announced or soon will announce their financial contributions to the SOFF UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund. I urge others to follow suit and help create a strong global data foundation upon which timely, accurate, people-centred early warning systems can be built for everyone. Our collective efforts are needed more than ever.”
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas stated that SIDS and LDCs currently have fewer than 10% of the essential basic weather and climate forecasting systems.
“The world urgently needs this data and this is why SOFF will be a partnership of equals where everyone has a role and responsibilities.”
According to WMO, SOFF benefits all countries around the world, not just the most vulnerable. The SOFF's improved availability of weather and climate observations is critical if the world community is to reap the 162 billion US dollars in socioeconomic benefits from weather and climate prediction.
Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, emphasised that “now is the time to begin business by providing financial resources and technical capacity, by ensuring that from local to global, all our actions can be informed by the best science and the best data. My deep thanks to the generous funders who will announce their firm pledges today. I encourage all to follow suit because now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work for people and the planet.”
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator Usha Rao-Monari followed, adding that “The United Nations Development Programme is a proud co-founder of the SOFF UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund. Together with WMO and UNEP, we are building upon the momentum generated over the past two years, and I want to sincerely thank all stakeholders that contributed to the development of the SOFF. The specialised support provided by SOF is needed more than ever.”