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WORLD | 04-01-2024 16:58

New WMO head Saulo says top priority is helping climate-vulnerable countries

Argentina’s Celeste Saulo, the first woman to head the World Meteorological Organisation, says her top priority is to help the most vulnerable countries cope with climate change and extreme weather. 

Argentina’s Celeste Saulo, the first woman to head the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), said on Thursday her top priority is to help the most vulnerable countries cope with climate change and extreme weather. 

"Climate change is the greatest global threat of our times, and increasing inequality exacerbates its impacts," Professor Saulo said on her first day as secretary general of the United Nations weather and climate agency. 

"Coming from the Global South, I'm acutely aware of the need to do more to prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable," said the first South American to hold the post. 

She said she wants to ensure that every national weather service has the resources it needs to "save lives and livelihoods."

"Even a small increase in investment leverages huge socio-economic benefits for our communities," she stressed. 

Saulo succeeds Finland's Petteri Taalas as head of the WMO.  Since 2014, she had managed Argentina’s national meteorological office. 

The climate expert said she wants to transform weather and climate science for the benefit of society. 

"This includes strengthening observations and data exchange necessary for reliable and accessible weather forecasts, benefitting from massive advances in artificial intelligence, and expanding early warning services to protect everyone on Earth," she explained.   

Much of the WMO’s work consists in using and sharing information provided by national weather agencies on greenhouse gases, sea level and temperature rises, glacier melting and other indicators of global heating. 

Saulo said improving WMO monitoring and research activities would help populations around the world work out how to adapt to the changing climate and lessen its impact. 

One of the organisation's priorities is to ensure that by the end of 2027, the world’s entire population is covered by early warning systems to protect them from weather and climate hazards. 

Last year, WMO member countries also agreed to set up a Global Greenhouse Gas Watch system. 

This is intended to continuously monitor greenhouse gases, so as to pinpoint where they originate, whether that be natural sources or from human activity. 

"We just lived through the warmest year on record and 2024 may be even hotter and more extreme once the full impact of the ongoing El Nino plays out on temperatures and weather events," Saulo pointed out. "Human and industrial activities are unequivocally to blame." 

 

– TIMES/AFP

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