Explained: SOFF To Improve Weather Forecasting in Least Developed Countries

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SOFF :The LDC Group is comprised of the 46 countries who are among the world’s most vulnerable and suffer disproportionately from climate impacts given their financial constraints and limited capacities.

New Delhi (ABC Live India): The Least Developed Countries (LDC) group has welcomed the proposed creation of the Systematic Observation Financing Facility (SOFF) to improve weather forecasts and strengthen resilient development. 

The LDC Group is comprised of the 46 countries who are among the world’s most vulnerable and suffer disproportionately from climate impacts given their financial constraints and limited capacities.

At a meeting on 7 April, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas and the LDC Group Chair, represented by lead negotiator Phento Tshering (Royal Government of Bhutan), both stressed the importance of this new Facility, which will directly benefit LDCs. They called for strong political support to make this initiative a reality.

“The lack of surface-based observational data severely impacts the quality of weather forecasts, climate predictions and early warning systems everywhere. LCDs suffer the most from direct and indirect effects of poor weather and climate services” stated Prof. Taalas.

The objective of SOFF is to support the most vulnerable countries, in particular LDCs and the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), to fill the weather observation data gaps. SOFF will provide technical and financial assistance to enable these countries to generate and exchange basic observation data in compliance with the requirements of the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON).

Improved forecasts are critical to understand the adaptation challenges countries face and to prepare and respond accordingly with proactive, preventive and early action.

“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”, said the LDC Group Chair at the First SOFF Funders Forum on 24 March.

SOFF will provide a new way of financing observations, moving away from a piecemeal approach, project-driven and time-bound. The key feature of SOFF is its focus on sustainability. Experience has shown that LDCs and SIDs need long-term support to operate and maintain their national basic observing networks. Recognizing the financial and capacity constraints that these countries face as well as the global value of these data, SOFF will contribute to cover the O&M costs an open-ended basis.

The creation of SOFF is a commitment and priority of the Alliance for Hydromet Development, which includes 13 international climate and development organizations. SOFF support will be delivered through the implementing entities accredited to the major climate and environment funds and through the SOFF technical advisory partners.

At the First Funders Forum, the LDC Group Chair expressed strong support for the creation of SOFF and urged the international community to mobilize the resources required for establishing it at the UN Climate Change negotiations, COP26, in November 2021.

We strongly welcome the global call by the Incoming COP26 Presidency to increase the level of grant finance to support the most vulnerable. Therefore, we are looking forward to a successful and ambitious outcome of the SOFF Funders’ Forum, so that the SOFF can be announced at the COP 26 – for the benefit of all of us,” said the Group Chair.

Countries can help to make this happen by continuing to advocate for the creation of SOFF and by requesting sustainable financing for systematic observations in the run-up to COP26.

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