Why Building Climate- and Weather-Resilient Communities Is Absolutely Essential

WMO-Event
With WMO President David Grimes, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas (center), and U.S. Permanent Representative to the WMO, Laura Furgione (far right).

Opening Remarks by Ambassador Hamamoto at Reception in honour of 68th Executive Council

U.S. Mission Geneva
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Good evening, everybody.  Wow, what a great turnout!  A big thank you to our sponsors, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and The Weather Company, for making tonight’s event possible again this year.  And with so many climate and weather experts in one place, the weather is finally shaping up – just in time for the summer

I know there are several receptions like this one happening around town while the Executive Council is in session.  So by now, I’m sure you’ve heard several of my colleagues here in Geneva stress the importance of the WMO and the many national weather and meteorological services around the world – how they help us tackle some of today’s most pressing issues and, more importantly, how they do it by working together with key stakeholders.  And I know that Laura Furgione, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the WMO, will talk about some of these partnerships in just a moment.

2015 was an exceptional year for multilateral diplomacy.  It started with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.  Then in the fall, we adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and, of course, the international community came together around the Paris Agreement last December.  Everyone here knows how much work went into these global frameworks, and how much more we have to do to implement these agreements in order to achieve our goals.  And I would like to take this opportunity to recognize WMO President David Grimes and WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, and to thank them both for their work in moving this agenda forward.   The WMO and its Members clearly have an important role to play, and the United States is ready to work with all of you in this endeavor.

Sustainable development is the ultimate goal.  But this next chapter of development must also unleash economic growth.   President Obama said, “we must ensure there is not a false choice between economic development and the best practices that can save our planet.”  We need to commit to both.  And we all know – we’ve all seen – that weather and climate have a significant impact on all our economies.  In a recent survey of The World Economic Forum, climate risks topped the list of potential risks to the global economy. So building climate- and weather-resilient communities is absolutely essential.  That’s why all of you have such an important role to play —   health, food security, energy, water and sanitation, air quality, resilient cities, economic growth – they’re all connected, and they all rest in large part on weather and climate science.

The facts speak for themselves.  Last year was the warmest year on record, a year where Arctic sea ice was at record low and where, for the first time, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations crossed the symbolic but significant 400 parts per million threshold in both the southern and northern hemispheres.  We’re already seeing the consequences, and over time, this is going to put a severe strain on our societies.  So we, the WMO community, need to provide decision- and policy-makers with the best possible science, so that we can identify the best possible solutions. You can count on the United States to do its part and to work collaboratively with all of you in this regard to address the impacts of our changing climate.

Thank you.  It is now my great pleasure to introduce the U.S. Permanent Representative to the WMO, Laura Furgione.