The Systematic Observations Financing Facility, or SOFF, seeks to provide technical and financial assistance to countries to generate and exchange basic observational data.
Systematic Observations Financing Facility Gets Funders Support
New Delhi (ABC Live
India): Systematic Observations Financing Facility : A major new proposed financing initiative to close the increasing gaps
in the global observing system, which underpins all weather forecasts and early
warnings, has received overwhelming support from the international community.
The Systematic Observations Financing Facility, or SOFF, seeks to provide technical and financial
assistance to countries to generate and exchange basic observational data. This
is critical for improved weather forecasts and climate services needed to boost
resilience to more extreme weather and to adapt to climate change impacts.
A successful first Funders Forum on 24
March underscored the groundswell of support for the creation of SOFF, with
declarations from leaders of the United Nations and development and climate
finance agencies in the Alliance for Hydromet
Development, as well as beneficiary countries and
the meteorological community.
As a priority, the SOFF will support Least Developed Countries
and Small Island Developing States which face the most serious shortfalls in
observations. This has knock-on effects for the rest of the globe as it
undermines the quality and reliability of global forecasts. Investments to
close gaps in data-sparse regions will have disproportionately high returns,
with a potential 1:25 returns.
“At the moment there are severe gaps in the observing system,
especially in Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Islands and in some parts of Latin
America. This means that the quality of the early warning services is poorer
and has a negative impact on weather forecasts worldwide,” Prof. Petteri
Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, told the
“I am convinced that SOFF is of critical importance for the
improvement of weather and climate services for the potential beneficiary
countries a s well as for the global community, that means to support the
protection of life and properties of all human beings as well the environment,”
said WMO President Gerhard Adrian.
for Hydromet Development
Spearheaded by WMO, creation of the
SOFF is a commitment and priority of the Alliance for Hydromet
Development, which is a coalition of major climate anddevelopment
finance institutions. The launch is planned for the UN Climate Change
Conference (COP26) in November 2021.
Science and data are at the heart of the fight against climate
change,” said Dr Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the
International Monetary Fund. “Better data means better forecasts and
stronger Early Warning Systems. For the IMF, better weather data will underpin
our work to boost economic growth and financial stability across our membership
as we scale up our work on climate change. In the new climate economy weather
data is economic data and sharing this information is absolutely vital,” she
said in a video message.
Leaders from beneficiary countries were also outspoken in their
Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji,
said that SOFF would save lives in vulnerable countries and support disaster
readiness and disaster resilience through more advanced early warning systems.
Since 2016, the island nation has been hit by 13 serious tropical cyclones,
including Cyclone Winston which was the strongest in the history of the
“We are calling on our development partners to back this
facility. The benefits of the data it collects and the work it supports extend
well beyond the Pacific. It supports a greater global campaign to build a more
resilient world,” he said in a video message.
The virtual event was attended by more than 130 participants
from 50 countries and institutions. It was chaired by Johannes Linn in
his capacity as SOFF Global Facilitator. Mr Linn previously chaired
replenishment consultations for several international organizations, including
most recently the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund.
Basic Observing System
Observational data is critical to the
quality of weather forecasts and climate analyses. Global numerical weather
prediction is the basis on which all weather and climate services are built,
and it requires a constant supply of observations from around the world.
Ground-based observations—collected by surface-based weather stations and
weather balloons—are a core part of this.
“Unfortunately, the network of surface-based observations today
is not sufficiently advanced, especially in developing countries. And yet,
observations in these areas of the world are most precious and are well worth
investing in.” stated Dr Florence Rabier, Director General of the
European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).
ECMWF estimates that an investment in the observing system in
French Polynesia would offer benefits up to 50 times greater than investing in
The SOFF seeks to accelerate progress towards full implementation
of the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON), whose
concept was approved by the World Meteorological Congress in 2019. GBON is
based on an agreement by which the basic surface-based weather observing network
is designed, defined and monitored at a global level.
of support from beneficiary countries:
H.E Mr. Sonam P. Wangdi, LDC
Chair and Secretary, National Environment Commission, Royal Government of Bhutan: The persisting weather and climate data gaps in our
countries are increasing our challenges to act effectively and proactively on
adaptation and building resilience. Closing the gap in providing essential
weather and climate observations in our countries is a priority and requires
dedicated, predictable and long-term financial and technical support. We urge
the international community to mobilize the resources required for its (SOFF)
Gahouma-Bekale Chair of the African Group of Negotiators: The
climate crisis is severely threatening the economic growth of our continent.
We, the African Group of negotiators, strongly welcome the creation of the
Systematic Observations Financing Facility that will create benefits for all
Hon. Dr. Aubrey Webson,
UN Ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda, AOSIS Chair: We
must invest in better weather observations systems right across the SIDS
regions. We are strong advocates for the Systematic Observations Financing
Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. Minister
of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Jamaica: The
Systematic Observations Financing Facility is a critical tool. It’s a tool that
countries will utilize to ensure that we increase our capacity for sustainable
development and strengthen climate resilience. All sectors stand to benefit
from this very important tool. All sectors, particularly agriculture, tourism
which rely heavily on weather data.
Carlos Eduardo Correa,
Minister of Environment of Colombia: The current gaps
in weather and climate information data are affecting countries' capacities to
act and increasing the challenges of providing early warnings and information
that save lives and protect our economies. Colombia welcomes the international efforts
to create the Systematic Observations Financing Facility and urges development
partners to mobilize the necessary resources to make this initiative a reality.
Gilberto Silva, Minister
for Agriculture and Environment of Cabo Verde: We are
facing a major challenge guaranteeing scientific information with quality and
regularity which is essential for preventing and reducing risks in various
sectors of human activity and for food safety. We must be pragmatic and
innovative in mobilizing resources, investing in partnerships and initiatives
such as SOFF. SOFF has already earned the confidence of us African ministers
responsible for meteorology and climate in the ministerial declaration adopted
at the fifth session.
DABILGOU, Minister of Transport, Burkina Faso: Recognizing
the value of the data generated by our local networks for local and global
forecasting capacities and therefore for the benefit of citizens of all
countries, we strongly urge bilateral and multilateral partners to accelerate
the creation of the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF), to help
the most vulnerable countries to fill the gaps in basic meteorological
of support from Hydromet Alliance leaders
Juergen Voegele, Vice
President, World Bank: Despite recent improvements in
information from satellites and the weather modeling, there is poor and even
declining availability of essential ground-based observation data. The SOFF
will support countries to meet their global commitments to generate and
exchange basic observational weather data with a focus on the least developed
countries and small island developing states.Y
Yannick Glemarec, GCF
Executive Director: SOFF will support LDCs and SIDs
to close critical gaps in their weather observation systems by acquiring and
exchanging observational weather data. This will enable countries to better
prevent, prepare for and respond to the increasing physical risk of climate
Bruno Carrasco, Asian
Development Bank Director General: Increased investments are
needed in surface-based observation systems especially in parts of Asia and the
pacific where data is sparse. The Systematic Observations Financing Facility
will greatly improve early warning systems and data gathering.
Achim Steiner, UN Development
Programme Administrator: Vulnerable communities
are amongst the hardest hit. To help address this they need access to the very
best of technology to adapt to the effects of climate change and to reduce
risk. SOFF will provide access to high quality weather forecasts, early
warning systems, and climate information and ultimately it will help to
strengthen adaptation and resilience across the globe.
David Beasley, Executive
Director, World Food Programme: One of the many different
factors driving global hunger today, climate extremes, are one of the most
predictable. So let’s work together to help vulnerable communities be better
prepared for them.
Inger Andersen, UNEP
Executive Director: This initiative will support
countries in overcoming financial and capacity constraints to generate and
exchange observation data on weather and on climate. That will improve both
local and global capacity to predict impacts of the three planetary crises: the
climate crisis, yes, but also the nature and biodiversity crisis, and indeed
the pollution crisis.
Carlos Manuel Rodriguez,
Global Environment Facility CEO: At its
heart, the Facility is addressing a critical need that we all recognize. We
need to scale up and support long term global cooperation and partnership to
strengthen climate resilience of the most vulnerable.
Mafalda Duarte, Climate
Investment Funds CEO: Only by taking the pulse of our
entire planet delivers the accuracy to predict the risks and future impacts
climate change may bring, allowing us to react with the appropriate response.
Dr. Bandar M.H. Hajjar,
Islamic Development Bank President: SOFF will enable the
provision of more effective support to our member countries. Having access to
the highest quality climate information for forecasts, weather and climate
phenomena, including extreme weather events, is crucial.