21 April 2005

Integrated Management of Water Resources Key to Attaining Millennium Development Goals, Says World Meteorological Organization Chief

NEW YORK, 20 April (WMO) -- In an address to the high-level segment of the Commission on Sustainable Development today, Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), today stressed that integrated water-resources management is the key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals of securing access to safe water, sanitation and environmental protection. He urged all countries to use the opportunity provided by the standing commitment from the World Summit on Sustainable Development to prepare and implement plans for integrated water resources management by 2005.

“If surface and groundwater are not managed wisely, water will become an even more limiting and fragile resource than it is today”, Mr. Jarraud warned. But “integrated water resources management can help reconcile conflicting uses of water and provide communities with the opportunity to utilize optimally their limited water resources”. Mr. Jarraud stressed the primordial role of WMO and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in water quantity and quality assessment. “Monitoring is the information backbone and knowledge base for integrated water-resources management and for building resilience in society against water-related hazards”, he stated. However, many countries still lack reliable water-monitoring programmes and WMO was actively supporting countries in improving water data availability and reliability through its World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS), which provides the basis for sound integrated planning.

The WMO supports the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development also through hydrometeorological hazard risk reduction and disaster prevention. Mr. Jarraud recalled that about 90 per cent of natural disasters are generated by weather, climate and water, with the developing countries being the most vulnerable to such disasters. Even before the great tsunami devastated the Indian Ocean littoral countries on 26 December 2004, the year 2004 had already been marked by many natural disasters of hydrometeorological origin, with considerable loss of life and socio-economic impacts. Such disasters ranged from one of the most severe tropical cyclone or hurricane seasons in records in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to severe flooding in several parts of the world. However, Mr. Jarraud stressed that “without WMO’s global system of warnings, the loss in life and property would have been even higher”. Mr. Jarraud reiterated the WMO target of reducing by 50 per cent over the next 15 years, the 10-year average fatality of 1994-2003 from all natural disasters related to weather, climate and water.

The WMO is joining forces with other United Nations agencies, and in particular with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, in ensuring that a tsunami early warning system may soon become a reality in the Indian Ocean and other regions at risk. In particular, its Global Telecommunications System, which interconnects National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, could permit the timely and reliable exchange of warnings and messages among relevant organizations. Mr. Jarraud believes that the swift action by the international community after the tragic tsunami of 26 December 2004 was an example of how the world could act decisively in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

For more information, please contact: Carine Richard-Van Maele, Chief, Communications and Public Affairs, WMO. Office tel: +41 (0) 22 730 8315, Mobile: +41 (0) 79 406 47 30, fax: +41 (0) 22 730 8027. e-mail:; Yunjie Zheng, Press Officer, Communications and Public Affairs, WMO. Tel: +41 (0) 22 730 8168, fax: +41 (0) 22 730 8027, e-mail: Website:

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