Deputy Secretary Operation, Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport, Disaster Management and Meteorological Service, George Tavo speaking at the opening of the National Climate Outlook Forum underway in Nadi, Fiji (Photo: FMS)

 

Nadi, Fiji - A National Climate Outlook Forum (NCOF) is underway in Nadi, Fiji, providing an important opportunity for the Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) to discuss ways to effectively integrate climate information into the decision-making processes of the users of this information from key sectors of the economy.

The NCOF is an initiative of the World Meteorological Organization under the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), where each member country of the WMO is encouraged to devote resources towards greater understanding of climate and weather, its associated impacts and above all to strengthen resilience amongst citizens to counter the adverse impacts of climate variability, extreme and change.

The Fiji NCOF held from 4 - 6 December, will focus on weather and climate predictions, identifying measures that can be taken by stakeholders to mitigate potentially negative climate impacts and user views and feedback to improve climate products and their access.

This involves a better understanding of the needs of users of FMS climate information and targeting their products to meet the needs of key industry groups, for example, sugar, agriculture, fisheries, health, education, infrastructure and the private sector.

“Severe weather forecasts with one to few days’ lead-time are useful in responding to hazards to minimize the loss of assets and lives. Similarly, climate predictions made months up to a season in advance are useful in contingency planning. For climate predictions to be more useful, they need to be assimilated into institutional systems that connect to decision contexts and community level response” said the Deputy Secretary Operation, Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport, Disaster Management and Meteorological Service, George Tavo.

Addressing the opening of the NCOF, he said, “The main challenge is to customize information so it is relevant to climate sensitive points of the users’ decision-making process. This requires a good understanding of the needs and requirements of these users”.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is a key partner with the FMS for the Outlook Forum, as part of its support to National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to enhance their climate early warning system funded by the Disaster Resilience in the Pacific Small Island States (RESPAC) project.

“We do need to prepare for climate events and we do need to be aware of the dangers but also the opportunities that it presents. Ask any farmer and he will tell you that favorable weather is boon for his farm and product output. On the other hand, early action taken to prevent crop loss is also valuable information and this is precisely the reason that climate outlook forums are required, so that the people entrusted with predicting the weather can interact and share their knowledge with other important stakeholders in the economy,” said UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative Levan Bouadze.

The NCOF is a national platform promoting inter-agency coordination and regular multi-stakeholder dialogue between weather and climate information providers and users at the national level.

The Acting Director Fiji Meteorological Service, Terry Atalifo, said “The National Climate Outlook Forum provides the Fiji Meteorological Service as providers of climate information with opportunities to interact with users with the aim of communicating better the content and uncertainties inherent within seasonal predictions. It is also an opportunity for forecasters to develop tailored products to support decision making by key stakeholder groups.”

The NCOF 2019 has representation from government ministries, statutory bodies, local government, private sector, tourism, research and academic institutions and media organisations, reflecting the many users of climate information from the Fiji Meteorological Service.

The RESPAC project funded by the Russian Federation supports FMS and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) in the region to build a platform in which the science of capturing, storing and analysing climate and meteorological data can be better understood by Meteorological offices and by all end-users. A crucial component of the work involves the collecting and recording of quality climate data that can be repackaged as information to help communities, businesses and local industries in their planning, preparation and decision making.

The Fiji Meteorological Service mission is to observe and understand regional weather, Fiji's climate and hydrological patterns and provide meteorological and hydrological services in support of the well-being of communities, economic growth, environmental sustainability and international obligations. Fiji hosted its first National Climate Outlook Forum in February 2018 in conjunction with a stakeholder consultation workshop for developing a National Implementation Plan for Enhanced Climate Services. This forum brought together representatives from the key climate-sensitive sectors with the aim to improve application of climate information, particularly the seasonal climate outlooks.

For more information, please contact:

Ana Degei, Media Liaison Officer, Corporate Division, Department of Meteorology, Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport, National Disaster Management & Meteorological Services; email: asovaraki@gmail.com; tel: +679 2177 615

Merana Kitione, Communications Officer, Resilience and Sustainable Development Programme, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji; email: mereana.kitione@undp.org; tel: +679 9920 760

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