Argentina's Celeste Saulo has been elected Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). She thus becomes the first woman, and the first representative of the South, to head the UN agency in charge of monitoring climate change and meteorological phenomena. In the organization's presidential election, Abdulla Al Mandous of the United Arab Emirates won the majority of votes. The new head of the WMO will begin her four-year term on January 1, 2024.
Celeste Saulo, 59, Director of Argentina's National Meteorological Service since 2014, and currently First Vice-President of the WMO, was elected on the first ballot after obtaining the required two-thirds majority of votes from the 193 members during the World Meteorological Congress.
Other candidates for the post of Secretary General included the Russo-Swiss Elena Manaenkova and Albert Martis from Curacao. In recent weeks, however, the campaign has been particularly fierce between the current Under-Secretary General, the Chinese Zhang Wenjian, and the South American.
Professor Celeste Saulo has made a career in academia. She has been particularly interested in the link between scientific research and the needs of society.
At Argentina's National Meteorological Service, she has promoted major organizational changes, based on management that aims for concrete results and responds to social demands. Her research has led to a better understanding of the South American monsoon system and the precipitation and circulation patterns associated with it during the warm season. In recent years, she has focused on interdisciplinary issues such as wind power generation, agricultural applications and early warning systems. Her extensive teaching experience is mainly linked to numerical weather prediction, atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics, mesoscale meteorology, cloud dynamics and cloud microphysics.
Celeste Saulo has long been involved in WMO activities. In June 2015, she was elected a member of the organization's Executive Council. In April 2018, she was elected Second Vice-President and, in June 2019, she was elected First Vice-President, becoming the first woman to hold this position. Previously, the Argentine was a member of several WMO scientific expert groups. Until 2018, she was a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP). She was also a member of the Working Group on Seasonal and Interannual Forecasts and the WCRP/CLIVAR Expert Group on the Variability of American Monsoon Systems.
President from the Gulf region
Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the WMO since 2008, Abdulla Al Mandous has also been President of the Asia Regional Association since 2017.
A member of the WMO Executive Council, the Emirati has chaired the Panel on Tropical Cyclones. He is also a member of the Standing Committee on Meteorology of the League of Arab States and of the Gulf Cooperation Council for Meteorology. Abdulla Al Mandous, the first President from the Gulf region, took office on Thursday June1st. The United Arab Emirates will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) from November 30 to December 12 this year.
Three new vice-presidents were also elected. They are Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, Director of the Indian Meteorological Department, now WMO Third Vice-President; Eoin Moran, Director of the Irish Meteorological Service, now Second Vice-President; and Daouda Konate, Director of Meteorology for Côte d'Ivoire, who has been chosen as the agency's First Vice-President for the next four years. The Ivorian is President of the WMO Regional Association for Africa.
A growing agency
In recent years, the WMO has become increasingly important in the fight against global warming. It is also responsible for the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose independent experts produce the assessments that inform the international community's response to global warming.