Play Video

Watch the SOFF video

Systematic Observations Financing Facility

Weather and climate information for the global public good

The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) will support countries to generate and exchange basic observational data critical for improved weather forecasts and climate services. It will provide technical and financial assistance in new ways – applying internationally agreed metrics – the requirements of the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON) – to guide investments, using data exchange as a measure of success, and creating local benefits while delivering on a global public good. The SOFF will contribute to strengthen climate adaptation and resilience across the globe, benefitting in particular the most vulnerable.

The creation of the SOFF is spearheaded by the World Meteorological Organization in collaboration with a wide range of international organizations, including the members of the Alliance for Hydromet Development. The Alliance unites efforts of major development and climate finance partners to close the capacity gap on high-quality weather forecasts, early warning systems and climate information. The creation of SOFF is supported by the beneficiary countries and international partners. (See SOFF support statements ).

The challenge

Missing foundational data for climate adaptation and resilient development

Improving our ability to forecast extreme weather events and predict the changing climate is critical to manage risks effectively, understand adaptation needs and plan accordingly with systematic and anticipatory action. Climate change and extreme weather events are now threatening lives and hampering global efforts to reduce poverty. Accurate weather forecasts and climate prediction is critical for all sectors and in particular for those that rely heavily on weather and climate, such as agriculture, transport, renewable energy and insurance.

Surface-based weather observations underpin weather forecasts, early warning systems, and climate information everywhere. Global Numerical Weather Prediction models are the backbones of all weather forecasts and climate prediction products. These systems require continued access to a wealth of real-time weather data from the entire globe. Surface-based observations are fundamental to the quality of the output of these models. These observations are essential to measure certain weather parameters that cannot yet be reliably measured from space and they play a vital role for calibration and validation of satellite weather data.

The current gaps in global surface-based data sharing significantly impact the quality of weather and climate information locally, regionally and globally. While some parts of the globe provide a reliable feed of these data, many others contribute only limited amounts and, in several instances the amount of data shared is even declining.

In Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) the data gaps are striking. Despite substantial investments in observational infrastructure supported by development finance institutions in these countries, there has been limited lasting improvement in global data sharing. In fact, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts observed a dramatic decrease in the number of shared radiosonde data (the most important surface-based data for weather prediction models) of almost 50% in Africa from 2015 to 2020. This situation does not include the further decline in observations since January 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19.

The principal reason for the mismatch between investments and limited improvement in global data sharing in SIDS and LDCs is the fact that these countries have not been able to operate and maintain their observational infrastructure. Providing these countries with the means and the incentives to invest, operate and maintain weather observation systems will have a large payoff in terms of long-term weather data collection and sharing and, ultimately, improvements in national and global development outcomes.

Related publications

The opportunity

The Global Basic Observing Network

In 2019, the World Meteorological Congress and its 193 member countries and territories agreed to establish the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON). As a landmark agreement, GBON offers a new approach in which the basic surfacebased weather observing network is designed, defined and monitored at the global level.

GBON sets out a clear requirement for all World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Members to acquire and internationally exchange the most essential surface-based observational data at a minimum level of spatial resolution and time interval.

Achieving sustained compliance with the GBON requirements needs substantial investments, strengthened capacity and long-term resources for operation and maintenance in many countries. The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) is being established to provide technical and financial assistance in new – more effective – ways. 

Related publications

The solution

A new way of financing surface-based observations

The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) will support countries to generate and exchange basic surface-based observational data critical for improved weather forecasts and climate services. SOFF will contribute to strengthen resilient development and climate adaptation locally, regionally and across the globe, particularly benefiting the most vulnerable.
SOFF has three novel design features to provide long-term financing and technical assistance in an effective way. It has a unique focus and complements and supports existing funding mechanisms.  

Applying internationally agreed metrics to guide investments

SOFF support is based on the global optimal and internationally agreed design to guide investments – the GBON. By using the GBON concept, SOFF will be in a position to allocate scarce resources most effectively.  

Using long-term, sustained data sharing as a measure of success

SOFF will provide grant support to LDCs and SIDS for capital investments and contribute to cover operations and maintenance. This will ensure that the benefits of investments in observational capacity are sustained and translate into longterm weather data sharing.  

Creating local benefits while providing a global public good

In addition to local and regional benefits, better weather data from LDCs and SIDS will improve the quality of weather forecasts globally, especially medium to long-range forecasts, with benefits for all countries, in all sectors.

Related publications

The implementation

A sequenced approach

In 2019, the World Meteorological Congress and its 193 member countries and territories agreed to establish the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON). As a landmark agreement, GBON offers a new approach in which the basic surfacebased weather observing network is designed, defined and monitored at the global level.

Based on the results of the evaluation and lessons learned, SOFF operational design can be further adjusted for subsequent funding periods. This could include considering a potential expansion to other OECD Official Development Assistance eligible countries, as well as to other domains of basic and internationally mandated earth observations as the GBON concept evolves. 

SOFF is expected to provide its support in three phases:

 

1. Readiness

SOFF will support countries to assess their national hydromet status, define the national GBON gap and develop a plan to close the gap. All beneficiary countries will undergo the Readiness phase. 

 

2. Investment

Countries will receive support for capital investments in GBON infrastructure and to developing GBON human and institutional capacity to operate and maintain the observing network.

 

3. Compliance

Countries will receive support to sustain compliance with GBON in the long-term and to access improved weather forecast and climate analysis products. This includes the provision of results-based finance for GBON-compliant countries to contribute to cover operational and maintenance costs and ensure continuous data sharing. 

Related publications

The target

An ambitious undertaking

SOFF at the intersection of national and global, resilient development and climate benefits.

5 Year intial implementation period USD 400 M Funding needs for the five-year initial implementation period 68 SIDS and LDCs supported to become GBON compliant and accessing improved weather and climate products. 10X More data shared from upper air stations 20X More data shared from surface stations

Related publications

The partnership

A new, structured, and results-based partnership

SOFF will be a partnership between the beneficiary countries, bilateral and multilateral SOFF funding partners, envisioned private sector contributors, and the SOFF operational partners.

SOFF operational partners

 

WMO Technical Authority

WMO is responsible for verifying the GBON national contribution and GBON compliance. This function will be performed by the WMO Secretariat, guided by the WMO Infrastructure Commission and supported by the WMO Global Producing Centres.

 

Implementing Entities

Major development partners, including Multilateral Development Banks and UN organizations, will become SOFF implementing entities. 

 

Advisory Partners

The WMO Country Support Initiative will advise countries and implementing entities on achieving and maintaining GBON compliance. It provides hands-on peer-to-peer support through national meteorological services.

 

Knowledge Partners 

It is expected that the participating WMO Global Producing Centres will offer free access to their improved weather and climate products for GBON compliant countries. They will provide on-demand standard support for the optimal use of these products.

 

A dedicated partnership and financing mechanism

SOFF is expected to become the one-stop-shop for GBON financing and technical assistance. SOFF financing will be embedded into larger early warnings, climate information services and adaptation projects and programs supported by the SOFF implementing entities. They will blend SOFF resources with their own funding. This will ensure an integrated approach that links GBON compliance with broader countries’ efforts to strengthen resilient development and adaptation to climate change.

SOFF is a dedicated partnership. Investments in basic observations are operationally complex. Supporting countries in complying with GBON involves provision of specialized and standardized scientific and technical assistance based on a global design. The provision of this type of support requires a dedicated mechanism to facilitate streamlined collaboration among the many SOFF operational and scientific partners.

SOFF will ideally be integrated into an existing climate or environment Financial Intermediary Fund. It is envisioned that the announcement of the creation of the SOFF will happen at the UNFCCC COP26 in November 2021. 

Related publications

SOFF downloads

View SOFF Brochure (English)

View SOFF Brochure (French)

View SOFF Executive Summary

FAQs

13 September 2021 – The new edition of the ‘Financing the United Nations Development System’ report features the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) as an innovative financing mechanism designed to provide a foundational global public good: basic weather and climate observations. Read more…

The international community has issued a rallying call for greater investments in weather forecasts, early warning systems, and climate services – known as hydromet – to boost climate change adaptation and resilience to extreme weather.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the first Hydromet Gap report “tells us how far we need to go to ensure all people have access to accurate, timely weather and climate information.”

“But for accurate forecasts, we need reliable weather and climate data. Today, large gaps remain in basic weather data, particularly in Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries. These affect the quality of forecasts everywhere, particularly in the critical weeks and days when anticipatory actions are most needed,” said the UN Secretary-General. Read more…

Watch the video: MSG SG HYDROMET GAP REPORT 06 JUL 21

I am pleased to welcome the first Hydromet Gap report.

I thank the 13 member organizations of the Alliance for Hydromet Development for highlighting the urgent need to close the capacity gap on high-quality weather forecasts, early warning systems and climate information. This is essential for building resilience in the face of climate change. Frightening heatwaves and other climate events emphasize our growing crisis. Read more…

First Hydromet Gap Report calls for scaled-up action

Geneva, 8 July 2021 (WMO) – An estimated 23,000 lives per year could be saved potential annual benefits of at least US$ 162 billion could be realized by improving weather forecasts, early warning systems, and climate information – known as hydromet, according to a new report.

The first Hydromet Gap Report, launched on 8 July, tells us how far we have to go to tap the benefits of effective weather and climate services. It presents the challenges of the complex global and local undertaking required and proposes priority actions to scale up support to developing countries to strengthen their capacity.  Read more…

More than 100 participants representing 28 potential funders and 21 observer institutions attended the second funders’ forum of the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) on the 28th of June to advance discussions on on the timeline and costs and benefits.

he forum built on the discussions of the first funders’ forum, and addressed key issues that delegations raised during the first forum and in subsequent consultations. It focused on clarifying the critical role of observations in the meteorological value chain and the SOFF value proposition; the proposed institutional and operational arrangements; and the roadmap to COP26 and beyond.  Read more…

21 April 2021 – The Least Developed Countries (LDC) group has welcomed the proposed creation of the Systematic Observation Financing Facility (SOFF) to improve weather forecasts and strengthen resilient development. The LDC Group is comprised of the 46 countries who are among the world’s most vulnerable and suffer disproportionately from climate impacts given their financial constraints and limited capacities. Read more…

25 March 2021 – A major new proposed financing initiative to close the increasing gaps in the global observing system, which underpins all weather forecasts and early warnings, has received overwhelming support from the international community.

The Systematic Observations Financing Facility, or SOFF, seeks to provide technical and financial assistance to countries to generate and exchange basic observational data. This is critical for improved weather forecasts and climate services needed to boost resilience to more extreme weather and to adapt to climate change impacts. Read more…

Geneva, 11 March 2021 – Behind every weather forecast, every early warning of life-threatening hazards, and every long-term climate change projection are observational data. A new report published by the World Bank, produced in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization and the Met Office (UK), estimates improving the collection and international exchange of surface-based observational data will deliver additional socioeconomic benefits worth more than US $5 billion a year. Read more…

13 February 2021 – You may have noticed that weather forecasts on your cellphone are reasonably accurate for the next three to five days, but very iffy eight to 10 days out. This may not matter much to you, except when you are planning a camping or sailing trip, or an outdoor event, like a wedding. But it matters a lot to a farmer who has to decide on optimal timing for planting, harvesting, and irrigation, or an electric utility manager who needs to plan for the expected supply of solar or wind energy to the grid. Read more…

Geneva, 28 January 2021 – The climate crisis threatens to push 130 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 while the world is confronted with the COVID-19 crisis. To reach adaptation action at scale, it will need to be at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery.

Among the several challenges and urgent needs highlighted in the Summit, early warnings and climate information were deemed as a priority.

SOFF will support the most vulnerable countries to fill the observations data gaps and to maintain the observing systems in the long term. By doing so, SOFF will ensure the benefits of investments in observational capacity are sustained over time. Read more…

Nairobi, 11 November 2020 – A transformative new programme initiated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) aims to establish climate and ocean information services and multi-hazard early warning systems in Pacific Small Island Developing States, which are among the most vulnerable in the world when it comes to climate change, natural disasters and increasingly frequent or intense extreme climate events such as tropical cyclones, flooding and drought. Read more…

Geneva, 2 October 2020 – Three major European meteorological institutions have joined the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to announce their support for the creation of a new Systematic Observations Financing Facility.

The heads of WMO, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), EUMETNET (a grouping of 31 European National Meteorological Services), and the satellite agency EUMETSAT signed a joint statement urging European governments and institutions and all multilateral climate and environment financing institutions to consider funding the new initiative. Read more…

Geneva, 1 October 2020 – The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) is officially joining the Alliance for Hydromet Development. The virtual ceremony is taking place during the week-long Executive Council Meeting of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) from September 28 to October 2 2020. The Alliance brings together major international development, humanitarian and climate finance institutions to scale up and unite efforts to improve weather, climate, hydrological and related environmental information services, also known as hydromet services. Read more…
Madrid, 10 December 2019 – Twelve international organizations providing assistance to developing countries came together at the UN Climate Change Conference today to launch the Alliance for Hydromet Development. The members of the Alliance have committed collectively to ramp up action that strengthens the capacity of developing countries to deliver high-quality weather forecasts, early warning systems, water, hydrological and climate services. Known for short as “hydromet” services, these underpin resilient development by protecting lives, property and livelihoods. Read more…

News

13 September 2021 – The new edition of the ‘Financing the United Nations Development System’ report features the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) as an innovative financing mechanism designed to provide a foundational global public good: basic weather and climate observations. Read more…

The international community has issued a rallying call for greater investments in weather forecasts, early warning systems, and climate services – known as hydromet – to boost climate change adaptation and resilience to extreme weather.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the first Hydromet Gap report “tells us how far we need to go to ensure all people have access to accurate, timely weather and climate information.”

“But for accurate forecasts, we need reliable weather and climate data. Today, large gaps remain in basic weather data, particularly in Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries. These affect the quality of forecasts everywhere, particularly in the critical weeks and days when anticipatory actions are most needed,” said the UN Secretary-General. Read more…

Watch the video: MSG SG HYDROMET GAP REPORT 06 JUL 21

I am pleased to welcome the first Hydromet Gap report.

I thank the 13 member organizations of the Alliance for Hydromet Development for highlighting the urgent need to close the capacity gap on high-quality weather forecasts, early warning systems and climate information. This is essential for building resilience in the face of climate change. Frightening heatwaves and other climate events emphasize our growing crisis. Read more…

First Hydromet Gap Report calls for scaled-up action

Geneva, 8 July 2021 (WMO) – An estimated 23,000 lives per year could be saved potential annual benefits of at least US$ 162 billion could be realized by improving weather forecasts, early warning systems, and climate information – known as hydromet, according to a new report.

The first Hydromet Gap Report, launched on 8 July, tells us how far we have to go to tap the benefits of effective weather and climate services. It presents the challenges of the complex global and local undertaking required and proposes priority actions to scale up support to developing countries to strengthen their capacity.  Read more…

More than 100 participants representing 28 potential funders and 21 observer institutions attended the second funders’ forum of the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) on the 28th of June to advance discussions on on the timeline and costs and benefits.

he forum built on the discussions of the first funders’ forum, and addressed key issues that delegations raised during the first forum and in subsequent consultations. It focused on clarifying the critical role of observations in the meteorological value chain and the SOFF value proposition; the proposed institutional and operational arrangements; and the roadmap to COP26 and beyond.  Read more…

21 April 2021 – The Least Developed Countries (LDC) group has welcomed the proposed creation of the Systematic Observation Financing Facility (SOFF) to improve weather forecasts and strengthen resilient development. The LDC Group is comprised of the 46 countries who are among the world’s most vulnerable and suffer disproportionately from climate impacts given their financial constraints and limited capacities. Read more…

25 March 2021 – A major new proposed financing initiative to close the increasing gaps in the global observing system, which underpins all weather forecasts and early warnings, has received overwhelming support from the international community.

The Systematic Observations Financing Facility, or SOFF, seeks to provide technical and financial assistance to countries to generate and exchange basic observational data. This is critical for improved weather forecasts and climate services needed to boost resilience to more extreme weather and to adapt to climate change impacts. Read more…

Geneva, 11 March 2021 – Behind every weather forecast, every early warning of life-threatening hazards, and every long-term climate change projection are observational data. A new report published by the World Bank, produced in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization and the Met Office (UK), estimates improving the collection and international exchange of surface-based observational data will deliver additional socioeconomic benefits worth more than US $5 billion a year. Read more…

13 February 2021 – You may have noticed that weather forecasts on your cellphone are reasonably accurate for the next three to five days, but very iffy eight to 10 days out. This may not matter much to you, except when you are planning a camping or sailing trip, or an outdoor event, like a wedding. But it matters a lot to a farmer who has to decide on optimal timing for planting, harvesting, and irrigation, or an electric utility manager who needs to plan for the expected supply of solar or wind energy to the grid. Read more…

Geneva, 28 January 2021 – The climate crisis threatens to push 130 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 while the world is confronted with the COVID-19 crisis. To reach adaptation action at scale, it will need to be at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery.

Among the several challenges and urgent needs highlighted in the Summit, early warnings and climate information were deemed as a priority.

SOFF will support the most vulnerable countries to fill the observations data gaps and to maintain the observing systems in the long term. By doing so, SOFF will ensure the benefits of investments in observational capacity are sustained over time. Read more…

Nairobi, 11 November 2020 – A transformative new programme initiated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) aims to establish climate and ocean information services and multi-hazard early warning systems in Pacific Small Island Developing States, which are among the most vulnerable in the world when it comes to climate change, natural disasters and increasingly frequent or intense extreme climate events such as tropical cyclones, flooding and drought. Read more…

Geneva, 2 October 2020 – Three major European meteorological institutions have joined the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to announce their support for the creation of a new Systematic Observations Financing Facility.

The heads of WMO, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), EUMETNET (a grouping of 31 European National Meteorological Services), and the satellite agency EUMETSAT signed a joint statement urging European governments and institutions and all multilateral climate and environment financing institutions to consider funding the new initiative. Read more…

Geneva, 1 October 2020 – The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) is officially joining the Alliance for Hydromet Development. The virtual ceremony is taking place during the week-long Executive Council Meeting of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) from September 28 to October 2 2020. The Alliance brings together major international development, humanitarian and climate finance institutions to scale up and unite efforts to improve weather, climate, hydrological and related environmental information services, also known as hydromet services. Read more…
Madrid, 10 December 2019 – Twelve international organizations providing assistance to developing countries came together at the UN Climate Change Conference today to launch the Alliance for Hydromet Development. The members of the Alliance have committed collectively to ramp up action that strengthens the capacity of developing countries to deliver high-quality weather forecasts, early warning systems, water, hydrological and climate services. Known for short as “hydromet” services, these underpin resilient development by protecting lives, property and livelihoods. Read more…

It’s critical that we invest in better global weather and climate observations

9 February 2021 – You may have noticed that weather forecasts on your cellphone are reasonably accurate for the next three to five days, but very iffy eight to 10 days out. This may not matter much to you, except when you are planning a camping or sailing trip, or an outdoor event, like a wedding. But it matters a lot to a farmer who has to decide on optimal timing for planting, harvesting, and irrigation, or an electric utility manager who needs to plan for the expected supply of solar or wind energy to the grid. 

Related publications