New Financing Mechanism for Climate Action Becomes Operational

New Financing Mechanism for Climate Action Becomes Operational

Systematic Observation Financing Facility underpins early warnings and adaptation

A new finance mechanism to strengthen weather and climate observations, improve early warnings to save lives, protect livelihoods and underpin climate adaptation for long-term resilience has opened its doors for business.

The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) is a key building block for a new initiative spearheaded by United Nations Secretary-General General António Guterres to ensure that early warning services reach everyone in the next five years.

SOFF seeks to address the long-standing problem of missing weather and climate observations from Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

In support of the Paris Agreement, it will strengthen the international response to climate change by filling the data gaps that limit our understanding of the climate. These gaps affect our capacity to predict and adapt to extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.

Heads of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and ministers from donor countries met in Helsinki at the Finnish Meteorological Institute to open SOFF doors for business.

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Others present were - representatives of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Group and Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and development partners met at the first SOFF Steering Committee meeting in Helsinki at the Finnish Meteorological Institute to open SOFF doors for business.

SOFF becomes operational thanks to the support from many partners and the initial financial contributions from Austria, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, and the Nordic Development Fund.

Support is expected to grow as additional countries that consider potential future funding attended the meeting. Ministers and senior officials from the initial funders emphasized the urgency of closing the huge weather and climate data gaps through SOFF.

Guterres said: "As the climate crisis worsens, it is crucial that we boost the power of prediction to reduce disaster risk. That is why we have launched an initiative to ensure that every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within the next five years.

"The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) is an essential tool to achieve this. I thank all the countries that are providing initial funding to the SOFF UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund and urge others to do the same."

“Early warning systems are built on the foundation of weather observation data, but this foundation is patchy to non-existent in many in LDCs and African countries,” stated Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Just Transition.

“Today, less than 10% of required basic weather and climate observations are available from Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries,” said Prof. Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General.

“The world urgently needs this data and this is why SOFF will be a partnership of equals where everyone has a role and responsibilities.”

Significant socio-economic benefits

SOFF provides benefits not only to the most vulnerable countries, but to all countries across the globe.

The improved availability of weather and climate observations enabled by the SOFF are essential if the world community is to realize the 162 billion US dollars annually in socio-economic benefits of weather and climate prediction.

Global Basic Observing Network

The objective of SOFF is to support Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and LDCs through the provision of grant financing and technical assistance for the sustained collection and international exchange of surface-based weather and climate observations.

A United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund

WMO, UNDP and UNEP legally established SOFF last year at COP26 as a UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund.

The first Steering Committee adopted the governance structure and programming criteria, as well as a preliminary work programme on how SOFF proposes to deliver support to beneficiary countries in terms of targets and planned allocation of resources.

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