United Nations System-Wide

Declaration of Guayaquil
Guayaquil, Ecuador, 13 November 1998

The Government of Ecuador, representatives from public authorities from countries affected by El Niņo, representatives from concerned agencies and organizations from within the United Nations system, the Permanent Commission of the South Pacific, and experts from the international scientific community as well as participants from other concerned sectors of society, assembled on the occasion of the First Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts on El Niņo, called for by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 52/200:

Reaffirm their commitment to continue in their efforts to reduce the negative impacts of the El Niņo phenomenon, in line with resolution A/C.2/53/L.30 of the fifty-third United Nations General Assembly which calls, inter-alia, for the full and continued implementation of General Assembly resolution 52/200.

Concluded that the global pattern of climate extremes associated with the 1997-98 El Niņo event caused loss of life, the destruction of shelter and food reserves, the disruption of food production and transport systems, and sudden exposure to extreme health risks; they imposed continuing poverty on peoples and set back development in many parts of the globe.

Underline that natural disaster reduction forms an integral part of sustainable development strategies, at all levels, and must take into full consideration the inter relationship between climate variabilities such as the El Niņo and the La Niņa phenomena, the consequences of global climate change and the vulnerability of communities at risk from natural disasters that may be induced by extreme climatic conditions.

Emphasize the need for synergies between science and technology, public and private sector decision makers and planners, as well as the public at large, in order to ensure the effective planning and implementation of measures that would prevent the negative impacts of the El Niņo phenomenon and similar climate variabilities.

Call at the same time for integrated approaches towards identifying potential positive effects of such phenomena, in order to determine how to draw maximum benefits, where possible.

Recognize the opportunities for inter disciplinary and multi sectoral research, applied science and technology, and preventive action which are provided by the United Nations Inter Agency Task Force on El Niņo, within the framework of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.

Agree that natural disasters are of global concern, and have their most severe impacts on vulnerable communities, as well as economic and social infrastructures in the developing world, and can therefore contribute to increased poverty if no concrete action is taken towards integrated preventive strategies.

Express their strong conviction that it is necessary to strengthen scientific research on the El Niņo and related processes in order to improve the forecasts and apply the results of the scientific research for mitigation of damages and the realisation of potential beneficial effects particularly in support of vulnerable communities.

Express their concern for the loss of human life and the destruction of economic resources, in particular of the South East Pacific region, which have occurred as a result of the El Niņo event, as well as in other countries which have suffered recently from the devastating impacts of climatic phenomena.

Reiterate their wish to intensify international cooperation, including multilateral projects for scientific cooperation and technology transfer designed to enhance the resilience of urban infrastructures and agricultural zones in order to lessen the negative impacts of El Niņo.

Concluded that urgent actions are required to strengthen many existing intergovernmental programmes to achieve the objectives of UNGA Resolution 52/200:

- Improved monitoring of the climate system, especially through the development of regional networks and the implementation of operational systems that have demonstrated proven value from research. Commitment of new funding for multi-purpose space based systems and in-situ observing networks of the Global Climate Observing System is necessary to achieve this objective;

- Expanded ongoing research directed towards improved prediction of climate variability on seasonal to interannual time-scales. The World Climate Research Programme has demonstrated its effectiveness as a research framework and commitment of new funds to the Climate Variability and Predictability Programme (CLIVAR) will give an important impetus to this established activity;

- Development and implementation of new climate early warning systems at the regional levels where required and the strengthening of existing systems. The technological infrastructure, including specialised observing networks and regional communications and computing capabilities for data collection, analysis and prediction are costly and beyond the financial research of most developing countries. Commitment of new funds will be necessary to establish a network of national and regional centres and is essential for supporting national climate services in countries of the developing world.

- Ensuring that the information needs of national sectors vulnerable to climate extremes are met through regional and sector specific studies to develop knowledge of vulnerability and sensitivity that is essential to underpin sound planning for protection, prevention and mitigation of negative impacts of El Niņo and related events. Commitment of new funds for the purpose of impact assessments and the development of appropriate response strategies is required to reduce climate risk and establish safe community habitats.

- Capacity building at the regional and national levels in the areas of observational techniques, data management and processing and in the use and interpretation of climate information and predictions for the early warning and prevention of natural disasters.

Emphasize the importance of developing regional models for the South East Pacific and other affected areas to match the scientific aspects with the social and economic factors.

Emphasize that the South East Pacific region represents one natural, strategic and continuous case study platform for ongoing research on the prediction and monitoring the El Niņo phenomenon, on the forecasting of its effects, on projecting its impacts and providing early warning, and for developing and applying preventive measures.

Also emphasize that it is of utmost importance to join efforts of all countries affected by El Niņo for the permanent study and monitoring of the phenomenon globally, in real time, which would enable the timely formulation of prevention and mitigation measures, through the creation of an international specialized center in the South East Pacific region.

Recommend immediate action to assess the feasibility of establishing an International Center for the Research of the El Niņo Phenomenon, in Guayaquil, as proposed by the Government of Ecuador, and suggest that such action be undertaken within the context of the United Nations Interagency Task Force on El Niņo, and the results to be reflected in the report on the implementation of United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/C.2/53/L.30 to the next UN General Assembly through the 1999 substantive session of the Economic and Social Council.

Take note, with appreciation, of the results of the Ninth Session of the Joint IOC/WMO/CPPS Technical Group carried out in Guayaquil on November 5-7, 1998.

Entrust the Government of Ecuador, the agencies and organizations of the United Nations involved and the Permanent Commission of the South Pacific, to present the conclusions and the recommendations of the International Seminar on the 1997-98 El Niņo Event: Evaluation and Projections, in appropriate international forums concerned with the impacts produced by El Niņo and related climate events.

Entrust the Government of Ecuador to present the results of this first Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts on El Niņo and this Declaration to the current fifty-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

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