Statement by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa on the occasion of the World Meteorological Day

23 March 2018


Today, 23rd of March, marks the World Meteorological Day (WMD) which commemorates the entry into force of the convention that created the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1950. This year the day is celebrated under the theme: “Weather-ready, Climate-smart”.

South Africa supports meteorological services worldwide and is gearing up to becoming a “A WeatherSMART nation”.  The country is committed to protecting lives, livelihoods and property from the risks related to weather, climate and water events; as well as to raising awareness on the global agenda on sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Across the world, the ever-growing global population faces a wide range of hazards such as the tropical cyclone, storm surges, heavy rains, heat waves, droughts and many more climate related risks. South Africa is not immune to these climate risks, as we have witnessed in recent times unprecedented levels of extreme weather due to climatic variability in our country. Our government has declared the current drought crisis in parts of our country a national disaster.

In recent years, South Africa has experienced an El Niño-related drought that is reported to be one of the worst meteorological droughts since 1904. The drought and heat conditions have impacted on already dry and drought-stricken parts of the country, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and affecting sectors such as water and agriculture.

On 15 March 2018 we launched the 1st Annual WeatherSmart Science Symposiumwhich forms part of celebrations to mark World Met Day. The inauguration of this Symposium heralded a new era towards a more integrated approach in communicating weather and climate research, which has become essential in a country where the impact of weather and climate on our socio-economic environment has become even more crucial.

In the weather, climate and air quality fields, research revolves around observation methods and technologies, analysis and modelling of the atmosphere, future outlooks, impact and applications. In this regard, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is  working in collaboration with the South African Weather Service (SAWS) to finalise and coordinate the implementation of the National Framework on Climate Services (NFCS).

Together we would like to encourage citizens to use the information provided by SAWS to become resilient and knowledgeable in what steps to take during adverse weather conditions such as tropical cyclones, storm surges, heavy rains, heatwaves, and droughts.

The data, services and products produced by SAWS ensures that South Africa is able to effectively address the challenge posed by climate change. They also enable stakeholders to make climate smart decisions across critical sectors, from crop production outlooks to the development of Early Warning Systems.

With climate change as a major concern globally and South Africa specifically, every effort should be made to monitor and understand its drivers and triggers in order to develop and implement evidence-based mitigation and adaptation strategies. 

Because the monitoring and forecasting of the climate and weather monitoring has huge implications for a number of sectors including agriculture and water resources, the results from the Lekwena Radar Climate Change Monitoring Programmelaunched yesterday at the North West University are expected to have real world socio-economic impact on issues such as flash flooding, drought and other weather-related events.

The Department of Environmental Affairs remains committed to improving air and atmospheric quality, inform, monitor and report on efficient and effective international, national, provincial and local responses to climate change.

For media queries, contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871