Climate Change

Public good approach to weather data not suitable for commercial purposes: WMO director

Dimitar Ivanov, director at Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization, speaks to Down to Earth on the public vs private debate in meteorology

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 29 October 2019

Director at Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization

What is WMO doing to quell the public and private concerns of the weather data sharing debate?

We do realise that the current data generation and data sharing landscape is different and it is an area of rapid development. The technology of today offers enormous new opportunities for observing and monitoring the environment.

Many useful data could be derived from non-traditional sources and platforms forming the Internet of Things. There are new opportunities in the satellite observations, ocean observations, etc. The demand for information and services from weather sensitive industries requires all these new opportunities to be considered in the global, regional and national information gathering and sharing.

There are challenges in this regard related to the different funding and business models utilised by stakeholders from the different sectors. The traditional “public good” approach by entities like National Meteorological and Hydrological Services is not suitable for commercial suppliers, so balances need to be found that allow to share data and products under different scenarios.

Recognising those challenges, the 18th Congress in June, 2019 decided that the existing WMO data policies need to be reviewed and updated and this is what we are going to do through our technical and policy bodies during the next two years.

Do you see this ongoing interaction between private companies and public institutions as a competition or a collaboration?

We strongly encourage establishing mutually beneficial partnership and collaboration between the public, private and academic sectors.

The 18th World Meteorological Congress adopted a landmark policy Act titled Geneva Declaration 2019: Building Community for Weather Climate and Water Actions. This declaration demonstrates a policy evolution over the last two decades towards a weather enterprise that accommodates three main sectors — public, private and academic, as well as civil society as a whole, in order to build a concerted response to the global societal challenges related to extreme weather and climate change.

The declaration sends a clear signal that collaboration is the preferred mode of engagement between the sectors, based on a set of basic principles to guarantee “win-win” solutions.

Having said that, it is unavoidable to have some competition within the enterprise, in particular in the provision of value added business-to-business services. And this is not a bad thing, in many occasions it nurtures innovation and fast uptake of science and technology advancements into operational practices.

This was first published in Down To Earth print edition (dated 16-31 October, 2019)

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