30th July, 2021 The Weather Ready Pacific Decadal Programme of Investment was endorsed at the Forum Foreign Ministerial Meeting (FFMM) on 27 July 2021. The Government of Tonga presented the initiative on behalf of the members of the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC) and as part of Tonga’s obligation as the current president of the World Meteorological Organisation Region 5 (South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific) and a member of the Pacific Meteorological Council.
“This is a milestone for the meteorological community in the region to have their issues brought to the highest level of governance in the region to be endorsed”, said Ofa Fa’anunu, Director of the Tonga Meteorological Services and President of the WMO RAV Region. “This is the first time that the PMC is able to bring its issues to the highest forum in the region and also fitting as we the PMC celebrate 10 years of service to the region”
The Pacific Island region is vulnerable to a wide range of weather, climate, hydrological, ocean and other related environmental extreme and high impact events, including tropical cyclones and typhoons, strong winds, high waves and seas, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, drought, coastal inundation (including storm surges, waves, swell and tsunami) and flash floods.
For decades, there has been significant investment in climate and climate change related capacity and infrastructure, critical gaps remain in the area of the weather services and weather and ocean monitoring network remains lacking compared to other regions of the world. The computational infrastructure and capacity to provide accurate and reliable forecasts and warnings are not up to global standards and forecasting systems in use are highly variable in approach and quality. In other words, the pace in which we invest in new and up to date technology to match the number of disasters is slow and inconsistent.
The scoping study supported by SPREP, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, WMO, SPC and the National Meteorological Services of the region highlight critical gaps that still exists in the region to better anticipate and respond to high impact and extreme weather, hydrological, climate, oceanic and other related environmental events and their associated risks. The PMC endorsed at its meeting on the in May 2021 the Weather Ready Pacific Decadal Programme of Investment as a pathway to resolving some of the critical issues raised.
The programme is a very ambitious, innovative and transformative to strengthen the technical capacity of the National Meteorological Services and ensure that we can provide accurate and timely information during extreme weather events and safeguard of communities. It will invest USD166.6 million over 10 years.
This programme is aligned to key regional instruments and regional initiatives that aim to enhance resilience to climate change and disasters such as the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific (FRDP), aspirations of the Kainaki II Declaration and declarations made by the Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology in Nuku’alofa in 2015 and in Honiara in 2017.
The Programme will Protect communities, Support economics, Strengthen Security and Build Resilience through empowering our National Meteorological Services to provide more sector specific forecasts, warnings and tailor-made services. Warnings will be more accurate, clearer about potential impacts of the weather, enabling them to make informed decisions. Clearly the human and financial cost of not acting is higher than the cost of acting through the proposed 10-year Program of Investment.
More importantly, the 10-year investment plan will allow the National Meteorological Services to have significant capacity building and establish standards and warnings systems that members can then work from. The Areas of investment include Strategy and Governance, Production of Forecasts and Warnings, Communications and delivery of Forecasts and warnings, Monitoring infrastructure and Training.
The Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet presented the Weather Ready Decadal Investment Concept on behalf of the Honorable Prime Minister Rev. Dr. Pohiva Tui’onetoa and the concept will be tabled at the Leaders Forum on the 6 August 2021 seeking their endorsement.