Water stress, water-related hazards and water quality pose increasing challenges to modern society, compounded by climate change. And yet, the capacity to monitor and manage this vital resource is fragmented and inadequate because of insufficient and inaccessible data.
This is one of the key messages of the World Meteorological Organization to the Budapest Water Summit, which aims to bring together decision makers, water professionals and funding institutions to address the global water crises and tackle problems related to water at the highest level. The event is organized by the Government of Hungary.
“The drama of scarce water, too much water and polluted water is unfolding before our eyes,” said President János Áder at the opening ceremony of the event, which takes place from 15 to 17 October.
In a video message, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said access to clean water was a human right.
“To achieve sustainable development, we must transform how we manage our resources. Water is one of the most precious,” he said.
WMO’s Director of Climate and Water Johannes Cullmann delivered a keynote address on behalf of WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas and explained how WMO is giving greater priority to strengthening operational hydrological services and to improving monitoring and forecasting.
“We need robust and resilient data sources,” said Mr Cullmann. “We also must make sure that we get the message to the end users. There are often institutional disconnects in the production and delivery of water-related information, warnings and services to people who need them most.”
Floods, storms and droughts are major threats to life and livelihoods, and yet only around 38% of WMO members have well-established national flood and riverine forecasting services. Only 44% have drought warning policies, he said.
In contrast to meteorological data, hydrological data is relatively inaccessible. No data access means no services, said Mr Cullmann.
WMO is promoting an integrated hydrological value chain. This translates reliable and accessible hydrological data into consistent and high-quality hydrological products and services. These in turn support sustainable water management, disaster risk reduction, economic development and environmental conservation, he said.
The World Meteorological Congress in May approved eight long-term ambitions that should guide the development of WMO activities relevant to water:
- No one is surprised by a flood;
- Everyone is prepared for drought;
- Hydro-climate and meteorological data support the food security agenda;
- High-quality data supports science;
- Science provides a sound basis for operational hydrology;
- We have a thorough knowledge of the water resources of our world;
- Sustainable development is supported by information covering the full hydrological cycle;
- Water quality is known.