NOAA’s Ko Barrett to become Deputy Secretary-General of World Meteorological Organization

A photo mosaic comprising a large NOAA logo with ocean and mountains near Port Orford, Oregon, in the distance.

A photo mosaic comprising a large NOAA logo with ocean and mountains near Port Orford, Oregon, in the distance. (Image credit: NOAA )

NOAA's senior advisor for climate, Ko Barrett, has been named the Deputy Secretary-General with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and is set to begin her term later this spring. Barrett’s appointment is the latest in a remake of the WMO’s Executive Management team under the new leadership of the WMO’s first woman and Latin American Secretary-General, Celeste Saulo from Argentina.

“I can think of no one better to serve in this role than Ko,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “In her nearly 20 years at NOAA and 27 years of government service, she has been a champion for addressing the needs of communities especially in the face of a changing climate. Her thoughtful guidance and inclusive consensus building was vital in leading NOAA’s Climate-Ready Nation initiative, and will no doubt help her excel in her new role.”

In her role as Deputy Secretary-General, Barrett will manage the WMO’s technical departments and related programs, coordinating across the organization to enhance the efficiency and visibility of the WMO’s work. This includes managing the budget, resources and risk management of the WMO, among other tasks. 

Ko Barrett, NOAA Senior Advisor for Climate
Ko Barrett, NOAA Senior Advisor for Climate (Image credit: NOAA)

Most important, Barrett and the new WMO Executive Management team will be charged with implementing the WMO’s top priorities, including: The global expansion of Early Warning Services; enhancing the socio-economic value of weather, climate, hydrological and related environmental services; and advancing diversity and inclusion across the organization.

“I could not be happier to join the WMO’s Executive leadership team as Deputy Secretary General under Secretary General Celeste Saulo at this vitally important time,” said Barrett. “My work at NOAA has been dedicated to building relationships and lifting all of society as we confront the climate crisis. In this role, I look forward to helping bring global partners closer together to effectively, sustainably and justly address our biggest challenges.”

The United States is a major contributor to the work of the WMO offsite link and derives significant economic and national security benefits from the multilateral coordination facilitated by the WMO. Cooperation through the WMO enables the global exchange of weather, water and climate data to enhance our national forecasts and warnings for the protection of lives and property, enhanced services for international aviation, collaborative international research programs and coordinated studies of climate and climate change. Barrett’s appointment confirms the importance of this connection and shared priorities.

"I’m thrilled to have my colleague, a distinguished U.S. scientist appointed as Deputy Secretary General of the WMO," said Ken Graham, United States Permanent Representative to the WMO and director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "Ko will be the first U.S. citizen to serve on the senior executive management team at the WMO, where she will be poised to help WMO Members and the global community develop global early warning systems in response to extreme weather, water and climate events."

This role is another exclamation point in Barrett’s groundbreaking career. In addition to serving as NOAA’s senior advisor on climate and a foremost world expert on climate science and policy, she has represented the United States for more than15 years in international climate negotiations, and in 2015, she was one of the first women elected to serve as Vice-Chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

Barrett will begin her term in April 2024.


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