New advances in technology and meteorological, hydrological and climate science, along with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have accelerated long-term changes in the content and delivery of training services. This demands a concerted and coordinated response.
“Education and Training in a Period of Rapid Change” was therefore the theme of a virtual international WMO symposium, which emphasized the challenges and opportunities in confronting the rapidly progressing technology, service delivery expectations, globalization of the meteorological enterprise, growth in urban environments, and impacts of climate change.
The Symposium on Education and Training (SYMET) takes place once every four years to assist the international community in meeting current meteorological and hydrological education and training challenges and those that are foreseen to arise over the next five to ten years. The 14th session – and the first virtual one – factored in lessons learned from the new training and teaching approaches during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 200 participants at SYMET focused on how to prepare and train specialists who can meet the requirements of the future. They stressed the need to develop new content areas, expected learning outcomes, delivery modes and create new forms of instructional media and pedagogical approaches to meet evolving and expanding needs.
The Symposium also considered joint educational programs and opportunities for bridging the gap in human resources of developing countries and the evolution of the WMO Global Campus, a collaborative network of WMO Member institutions and National Meteorological Hydrological Services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the approaches to education and training deliveries for ever. I have no doubt that the outcome of this Symposium will be of benefit to the work of WMO, more so at this time that the Organization is also undergoing reform process to enable it respond to present and future challenges of the world in the areas of weather, climate, water and related environmental issues," said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
SYMET agreed an outcomes statement, including a series of recommendations aimed at WMO and international organizations, policy makers and governments, and education and training institutions. It highlighted the paramount importance of greater investment in education and training to meet rapidly growing needs.
The Symposium once again strongly endorsed the WMO Global Campus initiative as a mechanism to strengthen international and regional collaboration needed to advance global Earth system science and prediction training needs. It said the concept of the Global Campus should be broadened to include mentorship and peer-to-peer collaboration on the development of new resources and innovations.
“The final document of the Symposium will become a roadmap for the development of hydrometeorological education, increasing its efficiency, and will foster cooperation between the regional training centres and academic science and technical commissions of WMO,” said Dr. Anna Timofeeva of the Russian State Hydrometeorological University and Co-Chair of SYMET-14 International Advisory Committee.
She said that Symposium outcomes embraced the WMO reform towards Earth system approach, which aims at seamless, global observations of weather, climate, water, and environmental pollution.
“The WMO strategy, infrastructure and services are changing; additional opportunities appear with regards to big data processing, building multifactor models; the requirements for the competence of NMHS personnel are also changing,” said Dr Timofeeva.
“Meteorological education and training has never been more important. As we saw at the COP26 conference, there is a pressing need to develop the people and tools to adapt to a climate in which climate extremes are sadly more common and more damaging. One vital part
of this adaptation system is the provision or timely, accurate and high-quality weather forecasts,“ said Prof. Andrew Charlton-Perez of University of Reading and Co-Chair of SYMET-14 International Advisory Committee.
”We hope that this meeting can develop new ways to increase the amount and quality of meteorological training around the world and international cooperation is key to this endeavour,” said Prof. Charlton-Perez.
The Symposium noted that cooperation between the Universities, NMHS training centres, WMO Regional Training Centres and international education and training partners provides a solid foundation for: increased sharing of teaching and learning resources and approaches; collaboration on development and delivery of education and training opportunities; developing model or common accreditation, certification, evaluation and assessment systems and their underlying quality control systems; and developing shared tools and platforms for developing, delivering and monitoring/reporting education and training activities.