More support for SOFF – additional USD 14.7 million for closing the basic weather and data gaps

  • + 14.7 million US-Dollars to the SOFF UN Fund by four existing funders: Austria, Belgium, Iceland and NDF, to a total of USD 94 million
  • Funding gap of USD 106 million remains, in relation to target of SOFF’s first implementation period by June 2025
  • Steering Committee decided on joint action: increased outreach to new and existing funders and activation of high-level champions

The SOFF Steering Committee and decision-making body gathered for the 8th meeting. On this occasion, the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Icelandic Met Office welcomed SOFF and partners to Reykjavík. One of the guiding challenges are SOFF’s current funding gap.

“The challenges are paramount, the timeline is ambitious, and the urgency is high. But SOFF is a fantastic example of how action can be taken at speed and scale,” says Prof. Celeste Saulo, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization and co-chair of the SOFF Steering Committee.

Continued and stepped up support by existing donors

Thanks to continuous efforts by already committed funders, more pledges were announced in Reykjavík.

“SOFF and its operations are crucial to us. We want to keep our ambitious course and continue supporting this cause,” says Benedikt Höskuldsson, Special Envoy for Climate in Iceland. Iceland becomes the biggest donor to SOFF, relative to GDP, adding ISK 200,000,000 to their existing pledges. Additionally, the Icelandic Meteorological Office, together with the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, support Malawi as SOFF peer advisor.

The Nordic Development Fund (NDF) has announced a second pledge of an additional EUR 6 million to SOFF. “For NDF, our total financing represents one of the largest contributions to an initiative, showing our commitment to SOFF,” says Satu Santala, Managing Director of the NDF and former co-chair of the SOFF Steering Committee. NDF was the first contributor to the SOFF UN Fund, paving the way for other funders.

Austria is increasing its commitment a second time to SOFF with EUR 2 million, to a total of EUR 6 million. Austria was the first bilateral partner that contributed and continues its leadership not only financially, but also with technical expertise: Geosphere Austria, the national hydromet agency, serves as SOFF peer advisor to eight countries. “Observational systems in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States were in critical shape. SOFF came at the right time. We are committed to continue our support,” explains Heinz Habertheuer, Head of International Programmes and Projects at the Austrian Development Agency.

Belgium is a strong SOFF supporter and adds EUR 4.2 million on top of their previous pledge, within one year only, bringing our total contribution to over EUR 10 million. “Because SOFF’s work goes to the core of what it means to prepare ourselves against climate change at a global level. Weather patterns know no borders. And better observations in one place will increase forecasting capabilities everywhere,” says Minister of Development Cooperation, Caroline Gennez.

Those four new contributions increase SOFF’s capitalization to USD 94 million, alongside other existing funders Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, Spain and USA.

Funding needs to catch up with the pace of operations

Since SOFF opened its doors, the UN fund moved at speed and scale. Already SOFF works with 60 Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. Despite the fast-pace and proven effectiveness shown in SOFF’s External Review (completed in 2023), SOFF faces a funding gap. Trusting partners have committed, often several times, their finances to support closing the weather and climate data gap.

In addition to those already programmed, 35 countries have requested to be programmed but cannot receive SOFF support due to SOFF reaching its financial capacity – for now.

The SOFF Steering Committee noted with concern the challenging financial situation and the urgency of stepped-up resource mobilization efforts. To mobilize more resources, the SOFF Steering Committee members, including SOFF’s funders have decided on an Updated Resource Mobilization Strategy and Action Plan, including:

  • Outreach to new bilateral funders and seeking additional commitments by existing donors
  • Outreach to multilateral funders, foundations, and private aggregators
  • Activating strong high-level champions for SOFF

About

Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF)

SOFF is a UN specialized fund co-created by WMO, UNDP and UNEP to close the climate and weather observations data gap in countries with the most severe shortfalls in observations, prioritizing Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and SIDS. SOFF provides long term financial and technical assistance to support the acquisition and international sharing of basic weather and climate observations, according to the internationally agreed Global Basic Observing Network (GBON) regulations. SOFF is a foundational element and delivery vehicle of the UN Early Warnings for All Initiative.

Global Basic Observing Network (GBON)

GBON paves the way for a radical overhaul of the international exchange of observational data, which underpins all weather, climate and water services and products. GBON sets the requirements for the acquisition and exchange of basic surface-based observing network designed, defined and monitored at the global level. GBON will improve the availability of the most essential surface-based data, which will have a direct positive impact on the quality of weather forecasts, thus helping improve the safety and well-being of citizens throughout the world.

Early Warnings for All initiative

The initiative and its Executive Action Plan was launched by the UN Secretary-General in November 2022 at the COP27. The Initiative calls for the whole world to be covered by an early warning system by the end of 2027. Early Warnings for All is co-led by WMO and UNDRR and supported by pillar leads ITU and IFRC. Implementing partners include FAO, OCHA, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, REAP, and WFP, among other partners. SOFF and CREWS are delivery vehicles of this initiative.

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