Petteri Taalas reappointed as Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization

Press release 14.06.2019 13.41 fi sv en

Petteri Taalas (Photo: WMO)

Petteri Taalas’s second four-year term as Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) will begin on 1 January 2020.

Petteri Taalas has served as the WMO’s Secretary-General since 2016. The election for the Secretary-General of the World meteorological Organisation took place at the WMO’s general assembly in Geneva on 13 June 2019. There were no alternative candidates in the election. 

"Petteri Taalas’s broad experience and expertise have been vital for his international work for the UN", says Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto. "His selection for another term as Secretary-General of the WMO provides an excellent opportunity to continue long term work for the organisation’s development. At the same time, it is also a recognition of Finland’s strong profile and constructive activities aimed at strengthening both the UN and other multilateral cooperation, particularly in areas relating to climate, water and weather. International climate policy plays a key role in curbing climate change, and the importance of the WMO for this will in future see a greater emphasis."

"In the field of meteorology, Finland has a bigger international role than one would expect for a country its size. Climate change, depletion of water resources and natural disasters are global challenges. Developing the operations of the World Meteorological Organisation to help solve these challenges requires the institute itself to be strong and well led. I am fully convinced that Petteri Taalas remains the right person to be leading the World Meteorological Organisation onwards in the face of these challenges", said Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin.

Petteri Taalas works in close cooperation with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Among other responsibilities, he will be leading the Scientific Working Group at the Climate Summit to be held in September 2019. 

"Combating and adapting to climate change is the greatest challenge faced by humanity", states Petteri Taalas. "Failing in this task would significantly reduce human well-being for many generations to come."

WMO activities founded on cooperation

The World Meteorological Organisation, based in Geneva, is the UN specialised agency for matters of weather, climate and water resources, and its role includes hosting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Petteri Taalas is the joint most-highly ranked Finn to have served at the UN, sharing this position with Pekka Tarjanne, who served as Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union between 1989 and 1999. 

Under Taalas’s leadership, the WMO carried out between 2016 and 2019 a historic reform of its structures and operating models. Furthermore, international recognition of the WMO has grown during Taalas’s term as Secretary-General through active cooperation with stakeholder groups and the media. Taalas has visited WMO member states and sought particularly to boost the recognition of developing nations’ national meteorological institutes within their own countries. 

The WMO has developed the worldwide weather and climate observation system and natural disaster warning system, and it is the UN’s leading specialist body on matters of climate and air pollution. The organisation also focuses on developing and improving renewable energy, health and city-scale services in cooperation with over 200,000 national specialists. The WMO works closely with the World Bank, WHO, FAO, ICAO and UNESCO. The WMO has a membership of 193 member states and territories.

Before working as Secretary-General of the WMO, Taalas worked as Director General and Research Professor at the Finnish Meteorological Institute and was a member of the board at Fortum and Chairman of the Board at the University of Eastern Finland.