At COP 26, three UN agencies announced the formation of a Systematic Observations Finance Facility (SOFF) to improve observations and forecasting in LDCs and vulnerable countries, allowing them to better prepare for extreme weather and climate-related catastrophes.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) all believe that SOFF, a UN multi-partner trust fund, will strengthen the international response to climate change by filling data gaps that limit climate knowledge.
Small island developing states and least developed countries provide less than 10% of the required basic meteorological and climate observations. The observing systems in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific islands, and even portions of Latin America have significant data gaps.
In terms of lives saved, improved disaster management, livelihoods, biodiversity, food security, water supply, and economic growth, SOFF will bring concrete advantages.
The basis on which adaptation efforts are built must be strengthened as soon as possible. SOFF will assist vulnerable communities to get ahead of the curve, adjust to the effects of climate change, and create much-needed resilience as climate change tightens its grasp.
SOFF will help 55 countries close the weather and climate observation gap in the first three years of its implementation, including the renovation or construction of up to 400 data-gathering stations.
Austria, Denmark, the Nordic Development Fund, Norway, and Portugal are among the donors that have already announced financial support. Canada, France, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey have all “expressed significant support” for the SOFF and are looking at ways to contribute financially in the near future. Switzerland has also pledged financial support for the establishment of a SOFF secretariat in Geneva, which is set to open for business in June.