How can we establish that weather services indeed generate benefits for service users? How can the benefits and related costs be quantified? National hydro-meteorological institutes, both in developed and developing countries are facing a growing need to assess and prove their societal benefits. To support the assessment, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and its partners have published a handbook. Two researchers from the Finnish Meteorological Institute took part in the writing of the book.
Image: Tayba Buddha Tamang
The handbook supports national hydro-meteorological institutes around the world to develop their activities from a societal perspective. A so-called value chain, which can be used to understand how the societal benefits of weather and hydrological services arise, has a central role in the book. FMI has developed its own value chain framework for assessing the benefits.
"The usefulness of hydro-meteorological services requires not only high-quality observations and forecasts, but also effective communication channels, understandable dissemination of the information and right timing. The FMI framework displays the phases in which there are room for improvement. Therefore, it is beneficial for a wider audience, and not only weather and climate experts", illuminates Research Professor Adriaan Perrels from FMI. Perrels was one of the main authors of the handbook.
In addition to information relating to the assessments methods, the handbook contains practical case studies. One case study is the FMI assessment of the improvements in the provision of hydro-meteorological services in the Kingdom of Bhutan, in the Himalayas. The assessment was based upon the method developed by FMI.
"Bhutan provides a good example, as it clearly shows that the benefits of hydro-meteorological services depend on the social and economic structures of the country. It is interesting that in Bhutan the two most prominent end-users are very different", FMI researcher Karoliina Pilli-Sihvola says.
"The economically important hydropower sector is a professional user of hydro-meteorological services with a need for high quality and reliable forecasts. Thus, the economic benefits of the services are potentially high. Another important potential end-user is the agricultural sector, which is largely based on subsistence farming. However, traditions are strong and the trust for weather forecasts is not very high among farmers, so the benefit realization requires training and a change of attitudes", Pilli-Sihvola continues.
Besides FMI researchers, an international team of experts contributed to the book with authors from the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and Switzerland. The book, launched on 28.5.2015 and titled Valuing Weather and Climate: Economic Assessment of Meteorological and Hydrological Services, is a joint initiative of WMO, the World Bank Group, and the Climate Services Partnership, with further financial support from USAID.
Research Professor Adriaan Perrels, FMI, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 50 583 8575
Research scientist Karoliina Pilli-Sihvola, FMI, email@example.com, tel. +358 50 309 4660