Water Safety Technical Commission Report

The 2010 meeting of the presidents of technical commissions (PTC) was held at the WMO Headquarters in Geneva in January 2010. The meeting focused on a number of key issues related to the Hydrology and Water Resources Programme.

WMO Strategic Planning

The PTC noted the request of the Fifteenth World Meteorological Congress (Cg-XV) that the technical commissions adhere to the direction and priorities set forth in the Strategic Plan and organize their programme structures and activities so as to pursue the top-level objectives and to achieve the expected results (ER) of the organization.

The PTC agreed to develop their Operating Plan (OP) for 2012–2015 based on the experiences gained through the development of the Operating Plan for the fifteenth financial period. They noted that EC-LX and EC-LXI had endorsed the guiding principles and schedule for delivering the draft WMO SP and OP for the period 2012-2015.

 The PTC proposed that the Strategic Plan should be short and concise and provide the direction and focus for the activities of the Members and the Technical Commissions (TCs).

They also suggested that WMO should advocate for one stable WMO SP and relevant groups should establish operating plans for its implementation and that the presidents of technical commissions and regional associations should develop their operating plans based on the draft WMO SP for 2012-2015.

They agreed that the operating plans of TCs and RAs may include activities that do not need financial support from the Secretariat but contribute to the achievement of expected results.

The PTC recognized the need for long-term stability of the SP and the Technical Commission ToRs and therefore that the ToRs need to be broader than ERs. The group also noted the requirement to adopt the RBM as requested by Cg. In general, it was thought that ToRs should be developed at a higher level than ERs and it was agreed that the numbers of ERs (ER1, ER2 etc) should not be mentioned in ToRs, but rather referred to in the operational plans.

It was decided to recommend that a general statement should be placed in the WMO Basic Documents, Regulation 179, Annex III, General terms of reference, referring to the requirement to focus on the ER.

The PTC noted that TCs are essential to WMO in terms of providing scientific and technical advice, and implementing the RBM in WMO and agreed to continue efforts aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Technical Commissions, including:

  • Shortening the duration of sessions of TCs;
  • Minimizing the requirement of interpretation/translation;
  • Reduction in the volume of documents;
  • Exploring the E-forum to discuss issues prior to the session; and,
  • Enhancing the coordination and cooperation among TCs and with RAs.

Global Framework for Climate Services

The PTC agreed that one or more elements of the GFCS would be directly relevant to some of the activities of most of WMO Programmes and co-sponsored Programmes, and that it would be useful to map them. This will help determine effective ways of enhancing and coordinating their potential contributions to GFCS.

The PTC urged all the Commissions, the panels reporting to Executive Council and the steering bodies guiding the WMO co-sponsored Programmes, to appropriately identify specific ongoing and proposed activities pertinent to the GFCS under each of the relevant Programmes, and align their activities to meet the needs of the GFCS through enhanced collaborative approaches.

Taking into account the discussions on roles and responsibilities of the various WMO Programmes, technical commissions, and co-sponsored programmes, and understanding the need for quick, but coordinated and efficient response to the challenges of implementing and sustainably operating the GFCS, the meeting of the PTC recognized the need for intercommission oversight and coordination for dealing with cross-cutting technical issues.

The PTC noted that a two-tiered structure for the coordination of cross-cutting technical activities supporting GFCS has been proposed.

The first tier is a set of inter-commission technical groups addressing specific issues, and set up by the Commission for Climatology or any other Technical Commission as and when required.

The second tier is proposed as a more senior group to oversee and coordinate these activities. The PTC suggested that this oversight and coordination function could be more effectively and efficiently achieved by setting up an Inter-commission Group on GFCS (ICG-GFCS).

The ICG-GFCS would include presidents of each commission as well as the chairpersons of steering committees of WMO co-sponsored Programmes, on topics relevant to the GFCS.

Proposed Inter-Commission Initiative on Consistent Methods of Estimating and Expressing Uncertainty

The PTC noted, with appreciation, the progress achieved towards the identification and establishment of a WMO agreed methodology for the estimation and expression of uncertainty.

In particular, the PTC appreciated the efforts of the Commission for Hydrology to host a meeting on the subject of Uncertainty Analysis (UA) in Geneva on 20th November 2009 with representatives from five TCs.

The meeting had prepared an ambitious proposal consisting in the development of a demonstration project comprising the estimation of uncertainties and their propagation from measurements to data assimilation to numerical simulation models.

The PTC agreed that the most effective manner in which to advance in this topic was to establish a Working Group on Uncertainty Analysis and requested the president of CHy to coordinate with the interested TCs the nomination of their experts to contribute to the implementation of the proposal.

The PTC requested the President of CHy to report back to PTC-2011 on the progress achieved at that time.

The PTC supported the proposal of the president of CBS that establishing ICG-WIGOS would be the best option. The PTC was informed of the MoU between WMO and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) (that sets standards for web access to geospatial information) that was signed in November 2009.

The meeting was also informed about the designation process for WIS Centres, including demonstration procedures for potential WIS centres.

Quality Management Framework (QMF)

On the one hand the presidents were very supportive of QMS, but on the other they noted that it is expensive and can be difficult to follow through, especially in developing countries.

It was also noted that QMS should not exist as a paper process.

It will work only if people who are trained put the training into use. The WMO QMF is not simple, requires effort and needs a dedicated person to manage it.