Developing nations must take part in addressing ocean issues, UN conference told

Developing nations must take part in addressing ocean issues, UN conference told

The head of the United Nations weather agency has called for greater participation by and aid for developing countries in addressing the effect of the oceans on climate and weather variability and with regard to maritime safety and meteorological services.

The way forward is to turn to new ideas including operational ocean products and services, marine environmental protection and management, especially in coastal areas, and marine risk management, UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told 150 international organizations, institutions and government representatives at a week-long meeting that ended in Halifax, Canada, yesterday.

Hosted by Canada, the Second Session of the Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) of the WMO and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Organization (IOC) of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural (UNESCO) took place in Halifax, Canada from 19 to 27 September.

"There is urgent need for a greater involvement of the developing countries in the scientific and technical work of the Commission," Mr. Jarraud said. "Reciprocally, there is much need for support to these Members, in the form of technical cooperation and capacity building.

"The strategy for making this challenge a reality should be through synergies among governments, the international community, academia and the private sector," he added.

Canada's Environment Minister Stéphane Dion applauded the ongoing efforts of the WMO and IOC as "essential if we are to improve our understanding of the oceans, their climate and the related effects on coastal environments and the people who live there.

"It is especially important today that there is ongoing monitoring of the changing conditions of the world's ocean environment so as to provide information and warnings of dangerous situations such as hurricanes, storm surges and tsunamis."

IOC Executive Secretary Patricio Bernal said last December's Indian Ocean tsunami catastrophe demonstrated the "overwhelming importance of having in place global, operational, robust and accurate warning services for natural hazards, as well as the need for interdisciplinary and inter-organizational cooperation to implement such services on operational basis.

"There is a role of JCOMM to play in this global effort," he added.