2017 is set to be in top three hottest years, with record-breaking extreme weather

WMO report highlights impacts on human safety, well-being and environment

6 November 2017 (WMO) – It is very likely that 2017 will be one of the three hottest years on record, with many high-impact events including catastrophic hurricanes and floods, debilitating heatwaves and drought. Long-term indicators of climate change such as increasing carbon dioxide concentrations, sea level rise and ocean acidification continue unabated. Arctic sea ice coverage remains below average and previously stable Antarctic sea ice extent was at or near a record low.

The World Meteorological Organization’s provisional Statement on the State of the Climate says the average global temperature from January to September 2017 was approximately 1.1°C above the pre-industrial era. As a result of a powerful El Niño, 2016 is likely to remain the warmest year on record, with 2017 and 2015 being second and/or third. 2013-2017 is set to be the warmest five-year period on record.

The WMO statement – which covers January to September – was released on the opening day of the United Nations climate change conference in Bonn. It includes information submitted by a wide range of UN agencies on human, socio-economic and environmental impacts as part of a drive to provide a more comprehensive, UN-wide policy brief for decision makers on the interplay between weather, climate and water and the UN global goals.

“The past three years have all been in the top three years in terms of temperature records. This is part of a long term warming trend,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We have witnessed extraordinary weather, including temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people and a relentless drought in East Africa.

“Many of these events – and detailed scientific studies will determine exactly how many – bear the tell-tale sign of climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas concentrations from human activities,” he said.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change which is hosting the Bonn conference, said: “These findings underline the rising risks to people, economies and the very fabric of life on Earth if we fail to get on track with the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement”.

“There is unprecedented and very welcome momentum among governments, but also cities, states, territories, regions, business and civil society. Bonn 2017 needs to be the launch pad towards the next, higher level of ambition by all nations and all sectors of society as we look to de-risk the future and maximize the opportunities from a fresh, forward-looking and sustainable development path, “she added.

Extreme events affect the food security of millions of people, especially the most vulnerable. A review of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) found that, in developing countries, agriculture (crops, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry) accounted for 26% of all the damage and loss associated with medium to large-scale storms, floods and drought.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the global health impacts of heatwaves depend not only on the overall warming trend, but on how heatwaves are distributed across where people live. Recent research shows that the overall risk of heat-related illness or death has climbed steadily since 1980, with around 30% of the world’s population now living in climatic conditions that deliver prolonged extreme heatwaves. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of vulnerable people exposed to heatwave events has increased by approximately 125 million.

In 2016, 23.5 million people were displaced during weather-related disasters. Consistent with previous years, the majority of these internal displacements were associated with floods or storms and occurred in the Asia-Pacific region. In Somalia, more than 760 000 internal displacements have been reported, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

The latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook indicates that adverse consequences are concentrated in countries with relatively hot climates and which are home to close to 60% of current global population.

Selected Highlights

Global temperatures in 2017

Global mean temperature for the period January to September 2017 was 0.47°±0.08°C warmer than the 1981-2010 average (estimated at 14.31°C). This represents an approximately 1.1°C increase in temperature since the pre-industrial period. Parts of southern Europe, including Italy, North Africa, parts of east and southern Africa and the Asian part of the Russian Federation were record warm and China was the equal warmest. The northwestern USA and western Canada were cooler than the 1981-2010 average.

Temperatures in 2016 and, to an extent, 2015, were boosted by an exceptionally strong El Niño. 2017 is set to be the warmest year on record without an El Niño influence. The five-year average 2013-2017 is provisionally 0.40°C warmer than the 1981-2010 average and approximately 1.03°C above the pre-industrial period and is likely to be the hottest on record.

The WMO statement is based on five independently maintained global temperature data sets. WMO now uses 1981-2010 instead of the previous 1961-1990 baseline as it is more representative of current climatic conditions and allows for more consistent reporting of information from satellite and reanalysis systems (some of which do not extend back to 1960) alongside more traditional data sets based on surface-observations. The change in the baselines has no influence on trend analysis.


Southern South America (particularly in Argentina), western China, and parts of southeast Asia were wetter than average. January to September was the wettest on record for the contiguous United States. Rainfall was generally close to average in Brazil, and near to above average in northwest South America and Central America, easing droughts associated with the 2015-16 El Niño. The 2017 rainy season saw above-average rainfall over many parts of the Sahel, with flooding in some regions (especially in Niger).

All-India rainfall for the 2017 monsoon season (June to September) was 5% below average. However, above-average rainfall in the northeast, and adjacent countries led to significant flooding.

The Canadian Prairies, the Mediterranean region, Somalia, Mongolia, Gabon and southwestern South Africa all received lower rainfall than average. Italy had its driest January to September on record.

Ice and snow:

Arctic sea-ice extent was well below average throughout 2017 and was at record-low levels for the first four months of the year, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the Copernicus Climate Change Service. The Arctic annual maximum extent in early March was among the five lowest in the 1979-2017 satellite record, and according to the NSIDC’s data was record low. The five lowest maximum extents have occurred since 2006.

A strong and persistent low pressure system over the central Arctic helped to inhibit ice loss during the summer months. The Arctic sea ice extent minimum in mid-September was 25- 31% below the 1981-2010 average, and among the eight smallest minimum extents on record. The ten smallest minimum extents have all occurred since 2007.

Antarctic sea ice extent was also well below average. The annual minimum extent in early March was record low, and the annual maximum extent in mid-October was at or near record low levels. Sea ice conditions in the Antarctic have been highly variable over the past several years with the record large sea ice extents occurring as recently as 2015.

Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent was 10.54 million square km, near the median value in the 1967-2017 satellite record.

The Greenland ice sheet saw an increase of more than 40 billion tons of ice due to above-average snowfall and a short melt season. Despite the gain in overall ice mass this year, it is only a small departure from the declining trend, with the Greenland ice sheet having lost approximately 3,600 billion tons of ice mass since 2002.

Sea level:

The global mean sea level (GMSL) is one of the best climate change indicators. Global mean sea level has been relatively stable in 2017 to date, similar to levels first reached in late 2015. This is because the temporary influence of the 2015-16 El Niño (during which GMSL peaked in early 2016 at around 10 millimeters above the 2004-2015 trend) continues to unwind and GMSL is reverting to values closer to the long-term trend. Preliminary data indicate that a rise in GMSL may have started to resume from July-August 2017 onwards.

Ocean Heat:

Global sea surface temperatures are on track to be among the three highest on record. Global ocean heat content in 2017 to date has been at or near record high levels. Elevated tropical sea surface temperatures which contribute to coral bleaching were not as widespread as during the 2015-16 El Niño. But some significant coral bleaching did still occur, including the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. UNESCO reported in June that all but three of the 29 coral reefs with World Heritage listing had experienced temperatures consistent with bleaching at some point in the 2014-2017 period.

Ocean Acidification:

According to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO the ocean absorbs up to 30% of the annual emissions of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere, helping to alleviate the impacts of climate change on the planet. However, this comes at a steep ecological cost, as the absorbed CO2 changes acidity levels in the ocean. Since records at Aloha station (north of Hawaii) began in the late 1980s, seawater pH has progressively fallen, from values above 8.10 in the early 1980s to between 8.04 and 8.09 in the last five years.

Ocean acidification is directly influencing the health of coral reefs and the survival and calcification of several key organisms. These have cascading effects within the food web and impact aquaculture and coastal economies.

Greenhouse gases:

The rate of increase in CO2 from 2015 to 2016 was the highest on record, 3.3 parts per million/year, reaching 403.3 parts per million. Global average figures for 2017 will not be available until late 2018. Real-time data from a number of specific locations indicate that levels of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide continued to increase in 2017.

Extreme Events and Impacts

Tropical cyclones

The North Atlantic had a very active season. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, a measure of the aggregate intensity and duration of cyclones, had its highest monthly value on record in September.

Three major and high-impact hurricanes occurred in the North Atlantic in rapid succession, with Harvey in August followed by Irma and Maria in September. Harvey made landfall in Texas as a category 4 system and remained near the coast for several days, producing extreme rainfall and flooding. Provisional seven-day rainfall totals reached as high as 1539 mm at a gauge near Nederland, Texas, the largest ever recorded for a single event in the mainland United States.

It was the first time two Category 4 hurricanes (Harvey and Irma) made landfall in the same year in the USA. Irma had winds of 300 km/h for 37 hours – the longest on the satellite record at that intensity and spent three consecutive days as a Category 5 hurricane, also the longest on record. Like Irma, Maria also reached category 5 intensity and caused major destruction on a number of Caribbean islands. In mid-October, Ophelia reached major hurricane (category 3) status more than 1 000 kilometers further northeast than any previous North Atlantic hurricane. It caused substantial damage in Ireland, whilst winds associated with its circulation contributed to severe wildfires in Portugal and northwest Spain.

The WMO Expert Team on Climate Impacts on Tropical Cyclones found that, whilst there is no clear evidence that climate change is making the occurrence of slow-moving, land-falling hurricanes such as Harvey more or less frequent, it is likely that human-induced climate change makes rainfall rates more intense, and that ongoing sea-level rise exacerbates storm surge impacts.


Exceptionally heavy rain triggered a landslide in Freetown, Sierra Leone in August, killing more than 500 people. Freetown received 1459.2 mm of rain in two weeks, about four times higher than average. Heavy rainfall contributed to a landslide in Mocoa, southern Colombia, in April, with at least 273 deaths reported.

Many parts of the Indian subcontinent were affected by monsoonal flooding, despite overall seasonal rainfall being near average. The most serious flooding occurred in mid-August in eastern Nepal,

northern Bangladesh and nearby northern India. Mawsynram (India) received more than 1 400 mm from 9 to 12 August. Rangpur (Bangladesh) received a month’s worth of rain (360 mm) on 11-12 August. More than 1 200 deaths were reported in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, whilst more than 40 million people were displaced or otherwise affected. The World Health Organization indicated that in Bangladesh alone, more than 13 000 cases of waterborne diseases and respiratory infections were reported during three weeks in August, whilst extensive damage was reported to public health facilities in Nepal.

Flooding affected many parts of Peru in March, killing 75 people and making 70,000 homeless. The Food and Agriculture Organization reported that there were significant crop production losses, particularly maize. Flooding of this type typically affects Peru during the late phase of El Niño events. Whilst there was no Pacific-wide El Niño during 2017, sea surface temperatures near the Peruvian coast in March were 2°C or more above average and similar to El Niño values.

Major flooding occurred mid-year in parts of southern China, especially within the Yangtze River basin. Peak totals from 29 June to 2 July topped 250 mm. Fifty-six deaths were reported and economic losses were estimated at more than US$ 5 billion.

Heavy rain affected the western United States in January and February caused substantial flooding, numerous landslides and the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. It was the wettest winter on record for Nevada, and the second-wettest for California.


Parts of east Africa continued to be seriously affected by drought. Following well-below-average rainfall in 2016, the 2017 “long rains” season (March to May) was also dry in many parts of Somalia, the northern half of Kenya, and southeastern Ethiopia.

FAO reported that in Somalia, as of June 2017, more than half of the cropland was affected by drought, with herds reduced by 40-60% since December 2016. WFP estimates that the number of people on the brink of famine in Somalia has doubled to 800 000 since February 2017, with half the country needing assistance. WFP has confirmed that more than 11 million people are experiencing severe food insecurity in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

From November 2016 to mid-June 2017, more than 760 000 drought-related internal displacements in Somalia were recorded by the Protection and Return Monitoring Network (PRMN), a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) led project.

Kenya declared the 2017 drought a national disaster. Nairobi faced water shortages that compelled city authorities to ration water, whilst cereal prices rose and GDP figures were hit.

An above-average wet summer season eased drought conditions in southern Africa. But localized drought intensified in the Cape Province.

Heavy winter rains in early 2017 eased long-term drought conditions in California, but resulted in some flooding, and contributed to vegetation growth which may have influenced the severity of wildfires later in the year.

Many parts of the Mediterranean experienced dry conditions. The most severe drought was in Italy, hitting agricultural production and causing a 62% drop in olive oil production compared to 2016. Rainfall averaged over Italy for January-August 2017 was 36% below average. It was also Italy’s hottest January-August on record, with temperatures 1.31°C above the 1981-2010 average. Other dry areas included many parts of Spain and Portugal.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was affected by below-average rains, impacting key staple crops such as paddy and maize. In the Republic of Korea, rainfall from January to June was 51% below average, the lowest since national records began in 1973.

Major heatwaves

An extreme heatwave affected parts of South America in January. In Chile, numerous locations had their highest temperature on record, including Santiago (37.4°C). In Argentina, the temperature reached 43.5°C on 27 January at Puerto Madryn, the highest ever recorded so far south (43°S) anywhere in the world.

Much of eastern Australia experienced extreme heat in January and February, peaking on 11-12 February when temperatures reached 47°C.

Exceptional heat affected parts of southwest Asia in late May. On 28 May, temperatures reached 54.0°C in Turbat, in the far west of Pakistan near the Iranian border, and also exceeded 50°C in Iran and Oman. A temperature of 53.7°C was recorded at Ahwaz, Iran on 29 June, and Bahrain experienced its hottest August on record.

The Chinese city of Shanghai and the Hong Kong Observatory reported new records of 40.9°C and 36.6 °C during summer.

In the Mediterranean, Cordoba in southern Spain experienced 46.9°C on 12 July and Granada 45.7°C on 13 July. An extensive heatwave in early August led to temperature records in northern and central Italy, Croatia and southern France.

California had its hottest summer on record and extreme heat affected other western states. This culminated in a major heatwave at the end of August and early September, which included a record high temperature (41.1°C) at San Francisco.


Extreme heat and drought contributed to many destructive wildfires.

Chile had the most significant forest fires in its history during the 2016-2017 summer, after exceptionally dry conditions during 2016 followed by extreme heat in December and January.

11 deaths were reported, and a total of 614 000 hectares of forest were burnt, easily the highest seasonal total on record and eight times the long-term average. There were also significant fires during the 2016-2017 Southern Hemisphere summer in various parts of eastern Australia and in the Christchurch region of New Zealand, whilst the southern South African town of Knysna was badly affected by fire in June.

It was a very active fire season in the Mediterranean. The worst single incident occurred in central Portugal in June, with 64 deaths. There were further major fire outbreaks in Portugal and northwestern Spain in mid-October, exacerbated by strong winds associated with Hurricane Ophelia.. Other significant fires affected countries including Croatia, Italy and France.

The area burned in the contiguous United States from January to 19 October was 46% above the 2007-2016 average. The area burned in the western provinces of Canada was about eight times the 2006-2015 seasonal average and contributed to heavy smoke pollution. A wet winter, which allowed the heavy growth of ground vegetation, followed by a dry and hot summer, provided ideal conditions for high-intensity fires in northern California in early October. At least 41 deaths were reported, the worst loss of life in a wildfire in the United States since 1918.

Other noteworthy events

Severe cold and snow affected parts of Argentina in July. After heavy snow had fallen the previous day, the temperature reached −25.4°C in Bariloche on 16 July, 4.3°C below the previous lowest temperature on record there. Other regions where record low temperatures occurred in 2017 included some locations in inland southeastern Australia in early July, where Canberra had its lowest temperature (−8.7°C) since 1971, and the Gulf region in the Middle East in early February.

The United States had its most active tornado season since 2011, with a preliminary total of 1 321 tornadoes in the January to August period, including the second-most active January on record.

The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water

Website public.wmo.int

For further information contact: Clare Nullis, media officer. Email cnullis@wmo.int. Tel 41227308478 or Cell 41797091397

Notes for Editors:

WMO uses three conventional surface temperature data sets – NOAA’s NOAAGlobalTemp data set, Met Office Hadley Centre and Climatic Research Unit HadCRUT. data set and NASA GISS’s GISTEMP data set. They use measurements of air temperature over land and sea-water temperature measurements over oceans to estimate temperatures around the globe.

WMO also uses two reanalyses with a much wider range of input data, including measurements from satellites. The input data are combined using a weather forecasting system, which provides a globally complete, physically consistent estimate of surface temperatures for each day. They provide better coverage of regions, such as polar regions, where observations are historically sparse. The two reanalyses used in the statement are the ERA-Interim of the European Centre for Medium Weather Forecast and the JRA-55 of the Japan Meteorological Agency. Despite the very different approach, the estimates of global average temperature produced by these reanalyses are in good agreement with the conventional surface temperature datasets

The provisional statement now uses 1981-2010 as a baseline. This takes the place of the 1961-1990 baseline used in previous reports. The 1981-2010 period is recommended by WMO to compute the climatological standard normal for climate monitoring purposes as it is more representative of current climatic conditions. It allows a consistent reporting of information from satellite and reanalysis systems, some of which do not extend back to 1960, alongside with traditional data sets based on surface-observations. For global average temperatures, the 1981-2010 period is approximately

0.31±0.02°C warmer than that of 1961-1990. The change in the baselines has no influence on trend analysis.

In this WMO statement, the period 1880-1900 has been used as a reference period for pre-industrial conditions allowing early instrumental observations to be used for estimating pre-industrial temperature conditions.

Information used in this report is sourced from a large number of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and associated institutions, as well as the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW). Information has also been supplied by a number of other UN agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO).

IFC Report Finds Policy Reforms, Innovation Can Unlock Trillions in Climate Finance

Washington, D.C., November 2, 2017—Developing countries can meet climate targets promised in the landmark Paris Agreement by catalyzing trillions of dollars in private investments through a combination of smart policy reforms and innovative business models, according to a new report by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.

The report identifies seven industry sectors that can make a crucial difference in catalyzing private investment: renewable energy, off-grid solar and energy storage, agribusiness, green buildings, urban transportation, water, and urban waste management. Already, more than $1 trillion in investments are flowing into climate-related projects in these areas. But trillions more could be triggered by creating the right business conditions in emerging markets, the report found.

“The private sector holds the key to fighting climate change,” said IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou. “The private sector has the innovation, the financing, and the tools. We can help unlock more private sector investment, but this also requires government reforms as well as innovative business models—which together will create new markets and attract the necessary investment. This can fulfill the promise of Paris.”

IFC’s Creating Markets for Climate Business report offers several examples of such an approach. On Sunday, Egyptian officials signed an agreement to create the world’s largest solar park. IFC provided a  landmark $653 million debt package that will finance the construction of 13 solar power plants near the Egyptian city of Aswan. The agreement occurred only after a series of reforms by the government and the creation of innovative financing structures. It is expected to lower electricity generation costs and reduce Egypt’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

The report’s findings point to specific investment opportunities including:

· Renewable energy investments could climb to $11 trillion cumulative by 2040—reforms such as renewable energy auctions, land title reforms, and supportive energy storage policy frameworks would make this possible.

· Investments in off-grid solar and energy storage can reach $23 billion a year by 2025 —if countries use differentiated tariffs, clear technical and safety standards, and targeted financial incentives while supporting new business models for community based solar such as Pay-as-You-Go and innovative finance solutions such as securitization assets.

· Trillions of dollars of agribusiness investment can become more “climate-smart”—if governments ensure property rights, good transportation infrastructure, and regulations and fiscal policies that encourage climate-smart investment while promoting improved farmer-training practices and using financial innovation to provide working capital for farmers.

· Investments in green buildings could reach $3.4 trillion cumulative by 2025 in key emerging markets—if countries adopt better building codes and standards and create targeted financial incentives such as green-building certification and mandatory benchmarking of energy use. Other important reforms should encourage new utility business models, such as green mortgages and energy service companies.

· Trillions of dollars in investments in sustainable urban transportation can be mobilized in the coming decade—if governments issue mandates to enable infrastructure investments and adopt municipal transit plans that can spur innovations, such as light rail.

· Investments in water supply and sanitation could exceed $13 trillion cumulative by 2030—for this governments would need to establish water pricing at predictable and sustainable levels to increase the creditworthiness of utilities while entering into public-private partnerships and adopting performance-based contracts.

· Investments in climate-smart urban waste management could reach $2 trillion—if cities work to attract private sector participation through improved regulatory and enforcement frameworks, using economic incentives and cost-recovery mechanisms such as feed-in tariffs, and driving waste-conscious consumer behavior.

Addressing climate change is a strategic priority for IFC. Since 2005, IFC has invested $18.3 billion of its own funds in long-term financing for climate-smart projects and mobilized an additional $11 billion from other investors. The latest report is a follow-up to the Climate Investment Opportunities report issued by IFC last year, which found that the Paris Agreement could create $23 trillion in investment opportunities for 21 emerging-market countries.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In FY17, we delivered a record $19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org

The World Benchmarking Alliance launches global consultation

Aviva, in partnership with Index Initiative, the United Nations Foundation and the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, will today launch the consultation phase of the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA). This global multi-stakeholder initiative will develop and publish free to access, publicly available benchmarks ranking companies on their sustainability performance and contributions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Over the next nine months, the WBA founding partners will lead a global consultation to explore the opportunity and potential for using the benchmarks to measure, motivate, and reward business action on the SDGs. The UK, Danish and Dutch governments have committed funding to the consultation phase, in addition to funding and support from Aviva.

The launch follows Aviva Chief Executive Officer, Mark Wilson’s call at the 2015 UN General Assembly for the UN to help change the rules of the international financial system to become more sustainable and for businesses to play their part in contributing to delivery of the SDGs.

The Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) supported the concept and creation of corporate Global Goal benchmarks and the World Benchmarking Alliance in its landmark report “Better Business, Better World”. The report, published in January 2017, outlined the $12 trillion economic opportunity for business in pursuing sustainable and inclusive business models and the creation of 380 million jobs by 2030.

Speaking today in New York at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit on the margins of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in “Global Goals Week”, Mark Wilson, said:

“Our idea is simple. We turn the SDGs into a corporate competitive sport. We draw up transparent data on performance towards meeting the SDGs, and we rank companies according to how well they are doing. This will motivate a race to the top and is what the proposed World Benchmarking Alliance is all about.”

Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the UN Foundation, said; “Business today faces a simple choice, embrace sustainable development or risk getting left behind. Benchmarks create a common mechanism for companies to accelerate their sustainability performance and – more importantly – they change the status quo by enabling business, government and civil society to hold each other accountable in creating a world that is good for business, people, and the planet.”

Wim Leereveld, Chairman, Index Initiative and Founder Access to Medicines Index said; “Ranking companies on their actual behaviour doesn’t only drive the top of the list to set new boundaries, it also stimulates the companies in the lower regions to adapt their strategy and behaviour.”

The Governments providing support to the WBA consultation also commented:

Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark said; ‘We need more businesses of all sizes and investors to embrace the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Benchmarks can translate the SDGs into a business and innovation agenda, creating clarity on the unique role and abilities of companies to contribute to sustainable development in developing countries. Clarity on the role of business will equally demonstrate where we as governments must step up’

Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, The Netherlands said;  “Civil society, investors and governments need to collectively voice what we expect from industry. And then work together with industry to unlock the full potential of the private sector. Initiatives like the World Benchmarking Alliance enable us to embrace a more productive and sustainable approach that benefits all of us.”


Media enquiries:


Heleana Greeves    +44 (0)20 7662 0405

Andrew Reid    +44 (0)20 7662 3131

Index Initiative:

Gonnie Been  g.been@indexinitiative.org   +31 651203963

UN Foundation:

Caleb Tiller   ctiller@unfoundation.org.   +1 202 887 9040


Notes to editors:

About the global World Benchmarking Alliance consultation:

Over the next 9 months, global and regional consultative roundtables and outreach events will be held, in addition to an online consultation accessible to all.  The consultation will scope a set of priority corporate performance focussed SDG benchmarks with global stakeholders. There will also be consultation on the institutional and organisational design of the proposed World Benchmarking Alliance.  Organisations that support the concept and ambitions of the World Benchmarking Alliance are invited to become allies to the consultation and actively participate. Allies to date include the EAT Foundation, The Global Foundation, the Inter American Development Bank, Nordea and The United National Global Compact. Allies to the consultation continue to grow and more can be found at: www.worldbenchmarkingalliance.org

About the founding partners:

BSDC The Business Commission aims to make a powerful business case for achieving a sustainable and inclusive economy. The flagship report ‘Better Business, Better World” launched in January 2017, maps the economic prize for companies that align with the Global Goals and shows how to achieve them. The Business Commission is chaired by Lord Mark Malloch-Brown; Mark Wilson serves as a Commissioner.  Learn more at www.businesscommission.org

Index Initiative Index Initiative is a centre of expertise in benchmarking corporate performance against stakeholder expectations. It seeks to propel the use of benchmarks to engage and bring purpose and clarity on the role of companies in contributing to the SDGs closest to their core business. A non-profit based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Index Initiative’s research and benchmarks are free and accessible to all.  Index Initiative will conduct the global consultation on the World Benchmarking Alliance   www.indexinitiative.org

United Nations Foundation The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by philanthropic, corporate, government, and individual donors. Learn more at: www.unfoundation.org.


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WMO opens new Regional Office in Singapore

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has opened a new office for the Asia-Pacific region in Singapore to improve coordination on hazards ranging from floods to fires and to strengthen meteorological services for rapidly evolving economic sectors such as air and marine transport. The Regional Office is being hosted by the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) and will serve as the nerve centre for WMO’s programmes in the region.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas and Singapore Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, officiated the opening ceremony of the new Regional Office for Asia and the South-West Pacific. The ceremony was held at the MSS Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS), where the Office is co-located. This is the first time a WMO Regional Office will be located within Asia and the South-West Pacific and the second Regional Office to relocate from Geneva.

Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region are already feeling the impact of climate change, including more frequent heat-waves, more intense tropical storms, and coastal inundation resulting from sea level rise, threatening food, health and water security. Air pollution and trans-boundary haze, environmental degradation and water stress add to the challenges.

“Weather, climate and water know no national borders. We need regional cooperation to improve resilience and adaptation to climate change from human activities and to prepare for naturally occurring events such as the powerful 2015/2016 El Niño, which caused widespread drought in Asia and the Southwest Pacific,” said Mr Taalas.

“In the last decades, the countries of the Asia-Pacific region have been exposed to rising land and ocean surface temperatures and weather and climate events of increased intensity and frequency,” said Mr Taalas. “The year 2017 is proving to be no exception to that trend.”

Strengthening cooperation in Asia and South-West Pacific

Asia and the South-West Pacific is one of the world’s most dynamic economic regions, especially for information and communications technology, transportation and renewable energy. It is a vast region with a great diversity of geography, climate and ecosystems, but with widening gaps in economies, technologies and capacities.

An important priority for the Regional Office is therefore strengthening regional cooperation and coordination and implementing WMO’s capacity-development initiatives. This will benefit not just WMO Members but also the user sectors and stakeholders that they serve.

A key beneficiary is the aviation sector, one of the most weather-sensitive of all economic sectors. The sector is undergoing a transformation driven by rapid growth. Global air traffic is doubling every 15 years, with the strongest growth centred on the Asia Pacific region. There is an increasing need within the sector for more effective and efficient operations, while ensuring that safety is preserved. This in turn drives demand for cutting-edge aeronautical meteorological services, which need to be seamless and coordinated at the regional level.

Addressing challenges in the Region

Opening of new WMO regional office in SingaporeNatural and environmental hazards are another area of concern. The Regional Office will work with Members to foster greater cooperation in multi-hazard early warning for the region. Such efforts will be complemented by capacity-building programmes. The Regional Office will act as a forum for regional challenges such as trans-boundary haze arising from large-scale land and vegetation fires.

“Climate change, the impending exponential growth in global air traffic demand, and the transformation of global air management systems to be more interoperable and harmonised, will significantly change the operating paradigm for our national meteorological services. Maintaining status quo is no longer an option. Meteorological information must be of higher precision and accuracy to tackle these three new challenges effectively,” said Mr Masagos. “This is why Singapore has been investing heavily in cutting-edge climate research and building up our expertise to improve our understanding of the dynamic tropical weather patterns in our region. This will enhance the precision of our weather predictions.”

“By strengthening our capabilities, we hope to deepen MSS’ contribution and regional role in climate science, aeronautical meteorology, and transboundary hazards. We are excited to have WMO’s physical presence in this part of the world, and look forward to the many exciting opportunities ahead for regional collaboration and capacity-building efforts in the region,” said Mr Masagos.

Connecting WMO Members

Singapore was selected because of its central position relative to WMO Asia and Pacific Member states, flight connectivity, and modern and accessible IT infrastructure. The Regional Office is headed by WMO Asia-Pacific Regional Director Chung Kyu Park, who will relocate from WMO headquarters in Geneva.

“We are honoured and delighted that WMO decided to set up its Regional Office for Asia and the South-West Pacific here in Singapore. As the host, MSS will support and contribute to WMO’s capability-building initiatives for meteorological services in this region,” said Mr Masagos.

Listen to interview with WMO Asia-Pacific Regional Director Chung Kyu Park

Centre for Global Disaster Protection

20 July 2017 – Today, International Development Minister Lord Bates is speaking at a Global Insurance Forum event. He will outline the UK’s partnership with the World Bank and Germany for the Centre for Global Disaster Protection in London that will support the poorest countries to strengthen their disaster planning and get finances in place before disaster strikes so they can better manage the economic impact of emergencies and build their resilience.

The Centre will draw on UK and international expertise to provide neutral advice, innovation and cutting edge science to help build cheaper, faster and reliable finance in emergencies that delivers the most benefit for the poorest people and can halve the cost of disasters.

Hygiene kits and tarpaulins for temporary shelter supplied by UK aid being distributed in Haiti in 2016. Picture: Carey Wagner/CARE
Hygiene kits and tarpaulins for temporary shelter supplied by UK aid being distributed in Haiti in 2016. Picture: Carey Wagner/CARE

Why is this important?

New research shows that disasters like hurricanes and severe droughts cost $30 billion a year across 77 of the poorest countries. While in high-income countries almost half of these costs are covered by insurance, in poorer countries less than 5% are covered and humanitarian appeals remain grossly underfunded. With little financial protection, vulnerable people face devastating hardship – they stop sending their kids to school and in many cases are left with nothing. Every year, natural disasters force 26 million people further into grinding poverty.

Natural disasters are not surprises – more can be done before a disaster strikes to build resilience and reduce the impacts on people. This will not only save lives and reduce poverty, but makes good financial sense. Every £1 spent on working to actually prevent a drought or flood turning into a disaster saves around £3 in humanitarian assistance. The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa would have cost $5 million to contain when it was first detected in Guinea in 2014, but that cost spiraled to $1 billion eight months later.

To end poverty and help countries stand on their own two feet, we must take a new approach.

How will this work in practice?

UK aid is already supporting well over 20 million people to build their resilience to natural disasters and is investing in disaster preparedness and early warning systems across 20 countries. The new Centre will help ensure disaster responses are:

  • faster – time costs lives. If finance is prearranged before a disaster strikes, it can arrive in days whereas a humanitarian appeal can take months to mobilise funds needed.
  • reliable – prearranged finance is more reliable, allowing better planning in advance of a disaster and better preparedness and delivery of support.
  • cheaper – an earlier response can halve the costs of a disaster response and help countries and people recover more quickly.

The Centre will do this by:

  • investing in data, science and research needed to design systems that work for the poorest;
  • providing training and sophisticated risk analyses and financial analytics to help developing countries’ better understand and make informed decisions about how to manage risks; and
  • bringing together experts from finance, science and humanitarian communities to provide neutral advice and design new, innovative financial tools – including insurance – that are right for disaster planning and deliver the most benefit for the poorest when disaster strikes.

We’ve already seen this work in practice. Last year, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility paid out to four countries, including Haiti, after Hurricane Matthew. And now we are expanding this to more places in Africa too.

Linking this prearranged finance insurance cover to existing national systems that deliver public services, like health, nutrition, water, education, sanitation and hygiene, means in times of crises, governments are able to provide increased services to help people rebuild their lives and stand on their own two feet.

The Centre will also work to build insurance markets in developing countries through supporting improvements in regulation, data and capacity. These could generate billions of pounds each year in additional national investment to boost economic development, and in turn global prosperity, which is in all our interests.

Insurance Development Forum Applauds UK and Germany Leadership To Address Disaster Coverage Gap

Government Agencies Commit Support to Build Financial Resilience of Poorest and Most Vulnerable Economies

LONDON, July 20, 2017 – The Insurance Development Forum (IDF), a partnership of the World Bank Group, the United Nations Development Programme, and global insurers, applauds announcements by the development ministries of the United Kingdom and Germany to dedicate support to narrow the disaster protection gap for communities in the poorest countries.

Speaking at the IDF Session at the International Insurance Society Global Forum in London, Stephen Catlin, chair of the IDF commented: “This is a big step toward activating our common mission as a critical public-private partnership empowered to take on the enormous problem of under-insurance in at-risk developing economies.” He added that the lack of an insurance safety net in much of the world “is a global problem no one organization, company or individual can solve alone.”

Building on Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement at the recent G20 summit, Lord Bates, Minister of State at the U.K. Department for International Development, outlined plans for the UK partnership with the World Bank Group and Germany for creating a Global Partnership for Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance Solutions. The UK and the World Bank Group are setting up a Centre for Global Disaster Protection in London, which will support the poorest countries to strengthen their disaster planning and get finances in place before disaster strikes so they can better manage the economic impact of emergencies and build their resilience.

The UK is providing £30 million for the Centre for Global Disaster Protection, which will draw on UK and international expertise to provide neutral advice, innovation and cutting edge science to help build cheaper, faster and reliable finance in emergencies that delivers the most benefit for the poorest people and ensures losses are not borne by people, business and government, which can slow growth and trap people in grinding poverty.

As part of the Centre for Global Disaster Protection, the World Bank Group will establish staff presence in London to support the Centre and benefit from closer connectivity to insurance and reinsurance market institutions. Germany will contribute €20 million as a first step to a linked World Bank Multi-Donor Trust Fund for country specific technical assistance and smart support with the aim to assist vulnerable countries to tailor disaster risk financing mechanisms.

Joaquim Levy, the World Bank Group’s Managing Director and CFO and Co-Chair of the IDF, who spoke at the meeting, said, “With climate posing an ever-greater risk, we can use insurance and risk financing solutions to strengthen developing countries’ financial resilience to a wide range of threats. By using well-designed financial instruments, we can ease the impact of disasters on the most vulnerable societies, reducing the cost and damage to development progress.”

Dr. Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) welcomes the cooperation: “Climate risk insurance helps – in a fast and cost-efficient manner. Together with the United Kingdom, the World Bank Group and other partners, Germany is working on creating the Global Partnership on Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance Solutions, which the G20 leaders have welcomed at the Hamburg Summit.”

Ms. Ingrid Hoven, Director General for Global issues, sector policies and programmes at BMZ outlined at the International Insurance Society Global Forum in London the design of a €15 million InsuResilience Solutions Fund to support public and private sector collaboration on climate risk insurance programmes in developing countries.

These announcements by DFID and BMZ will contribute to the creation of a Global Partnership for Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance Solutions. This was welcomed by G20 leaders at the Hamburg Summit this month. The IDF welcomes DFID, BMZ, and the World Bank Group joining forces to contribute first elements to such a Global Partnership and want to engage many more countries and stakeholders.

The Global Partnership builds on the G7 InsuResilience commitment to increase climate risk insurance protection to an additional 400 million people in emerging and developing countries by 2020. The V20, a forum of 48 developing countries vulnerable to climate change, which is supported by UNDP, as well as civil society and the insurance industry have all called for further improving such risk finance and insurance instruments and collaborating towards this goal. The announced developments are fully aligned with the World Bank Group’s mission of eliminating extreme poverty by the year 2030 and building shared prosperity by focusing on the needs of the people in the bottom 40 percent of each country’s income distribution. The impact of natural disasters and climate change are projected to have their most severe impact on the world’s poorest people and most vulnerable countries.

“The creation of the Centre for Global Disaster Protection is a critical step forward in realizing the promise of the IDF,” remarked Jo Scheuer, UNDP’s Director for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction. “Insurance is central in helping countries deliver development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We must build on the momentum created and look to further and deepen partnerships.”

As an early priority of the IDF Working Groups, more than 200 people from industry, NGOs, regulators, academia and international institutions have donated more than 5,000 hours of their input to support the design and development of these critical facilities. The Forum will continue to support their progress. These new facilities will be closely linked to the science and academic communities, to help develop best practices and transparency in the role of financial tools, like insurance, in sustainable development and disaster resilience.

Rowan Douglas, Chair of the Implementation Committee of the IDF said: “The IDF looks forward to working with the newly formed Centre of Global Disaster Protection, and the German efforts by BMZ such as the InsuResilience Solutions Fund, to develop and implement plans to deliver the services necessary to proactively prepare for and insure against disasters – a far more effective approach than rushing aid to the scene after devastation occurs.”

Download the report: Understanding risk to create resilient platforms for sustainable growth and human dignity

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The Insurance Development Forum (IDF) is an unprecedented public-private partnership led by the insurance industry with the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank Group. Its initial focus is to contribute to closing the protection gap — the gap between insured disaster losses and the actual economic costs of disasters — by optimizing and extending the use of insurance and its related risk management capabilities to build greater resilience for people, communities, businesses and public institutions that are vulnerable to climate change, disasters and related economic shocks.

The IDF is chaired by Stephen Catlin. It is co-chaired by the UN Development Program (UNDP) and Joaquim Levy, the World Bank Group Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer. The Steering Committee includes industry leaders, UN agency leaders, international institutions and others to establish priorities and mobilise resources, and the International Insurance Society (IIS), Geneva Association, International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) and Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR) are ex-officio members. The Implementation Committee of the IDF is chaired by Rowan Douglas, Willis Towers Watson and co-chaired by UNDP and Samuel Munzele Maimbo, World Bank Group.

Follow the IDF on Twitter at @InsDevForum. For more information contact David.Rylatt@XLCatlin.com or visit www.theidf.org.