International Conference on El Niño, November 17 and 18

One of the strongest El Niño events ever measured is now underway. It is already causing droughts and flooding in different parts of the world, and affecting food production, water availability, public health and energy supplies in a number of countries.

The last major El Niño occurred in 1997/98, wreaking widespread havoc and erasing years of development gains. The world is much better prepared for this year’s El Niño, but the socio-economic shocks will still be profound.

In an effort to increase scientific understanding of this event and help boost resilience, a high-level El Niño conference will take place on Nov. 17 and 18, 2015. It is jointly organized by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The conference will:

  • Provide an overview of the 2015 El Niño and its potential impacts
  • Explore the connection between the current El Niño and global change
  • Foster dialogue between climate scientists and development practitioners to strengthen action for climate resilience and sustainable development
  • Examine the progress, and lessons learned, over the last 20 years in international, national and regional climate services, with a focus on El Niño

Confirmed speakers include Jerry Lengoasa, WMO Deputy Secretary-General, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, Colombia University, and Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University. Senior experts from meteorological services and research institutes around the world will present national case studies about the current El Niño, and representatives of development agencies, academia and the private sector will lead discussions on the impacts on health, water, disaster management, energy and agriculture and food security.

They will discuss issues such as lessons learned since the 1997/98 event, connecting research to operational communities, and defining adequate and appropriate El Niño response strategies and public messaging. They will also help define future priorities for enhancing climate resilience and sustainable development.

The conference takes place at Columbia University’s Lamont campus in Palisades, N.Y.

The event is invitation-only, but will be live streamed, and Twitter users can get updates in real time by following the #ElNinoConf hashtag.

Details and a full agenda are available at

Space is extremely limited. Journalists interested in attending should contact Francesco Fiondella (ude.aibmuloc.irinull@ocsecnarf).