Under the Weather: Internal Report Says U.N. Climate Agency Rife With Bad Practices

By George Russell | Fox News

As more than 10,000 delegates and observers gather in Poznan, Poland, to discuss the next phase in the battle against “climate change,” a U.N. agency at the center of that hoopla badly needs to do some in-house weather-proofing.

The Poznan conference, seen as a major step toward a negotiated successor to the Kyoto Accord on greenhouse gases, is taking place until Dec. 12 under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a subsidiary of the World Meteorological Organization, a global association of scientific weather forecasters.

But the WMO, the $80 million U.N. front-line agency in the climate change struggle, and the source for much of the world’s information in the global atmosphere and water supply, has serious management problems of its own, despite its rapidly expanding global ambitions.

The international agency has been sharply criticized by a U.N. inspection unit in a confidential report obtained by FOX News, for, among other things, haphazard budget practices, deeply flawed organizational procedures, and no effective oversight by the 188 nations that formally make up its membership and dole out its funds.

The inspection was carried out by a member of the United Nations Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), a small, independent branch of the U.N. that reports to the General Assembly and is mandated to improve the organization’s efficiency and coordination through its inspection process.

The investigations took place in late 2006 and extended through at least May 2007, and subsequently were presented to the WMO’s ruling bodies and its secretary general, Michel Jarraud, in December 2007. It was forwarded to the U.N. General Assembly only in November 2008.

The confidential document was a follow-up to an earlier examination in 2004, which also led to suggestions for greater internal controls of the WMO. (That inspection followed the discovery in 2003 of a multi-million-dollar embezzlement of WMO funds by an employee who subsequently disappeared.)

According to the more recent report, the WMO still has a lot of changing to do — starting with the agency’s far-flung regional offices, which the WMO touts as key units in the climate change struggle, especially in helping the world’s poorest people. But in the report, the regional offices are described as being of “questionable” value, and the organization’s plans to bolster its scientific programs in poor countries are said to be based on “ad hoc demands” rather than carefully examined needs.

Moreover, the report says, “there is no systematic, regular reporting by the offices in the regions to headquarters regarding their activities, achievements, performance or lessons learned.” The JIU inspector declared it “imperative” that the WMO get better reporting from its local offices.

Similar quality-control problems apparently infect the WMO’s Geneva head office, where, the report dryly notes, “a results-oriented culture is lacking among staff.” Among other things, the report notes that WMO “suffers from the lack of a set of internal procedures, guidelines and instructions regarding work processes, departmental responsibilities and workflow” — administrative lapses that were “particularly the case in the budget preparation process.”

Click here to see the Joint Inspection Unit report.

In a survey done by the JIU inspector, more than 58 percent of the WMO’s staff found the level of coordination and cooperation in their organization “inadequate.” (And elsewhere, the report notes, “it is a cause for concern that 30% of staff had seen conduct in recent months that they thought violated the WMO Code of Ethics.”)

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