Enhancing climate resilience

MeteoSwiss and the University of Bern co-convened a session at the 4th International Conference on Research for Development (ICRD) from 5 to 8 September to exchange experiences on how to enhance climate resilience of for the poorest in our societies who are often unprepared for and have limited possibilities to cope with the impacts of climate change and variability. Such climate services could also provide financial benefits to the stakeholders in question. A study within the Climandes[1] project, which is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), demonstrated that for coffee and maize the return on investments on an early warning system for high-impact weather and climate events would be more than US$ 100 million over 10 years in Peru.

Keynote speeches, a panel discussion and posters emphasized that the success and sustainability of climate services largely depends on strategic partnerships between suppliers, users, government and civil society. However, it is vital to define the roles and required capabilities of each partner.

High-quality climate data is the foundation for climate services. But many developing and emerging countries lack the resources for collecting and processing such data – measuring infrastructure or data management capabilities. Governments need to prioritize this area and seek out international cooperation to strengthen national services.

Climate services are also only valuable if they are used, and they will only be used if they fit the user’s needs. The engagement of users in the development, dissemination and application of climate services can dramatically improve their fitness-to-purpose. Social sciences can play an important role in understanding how decisions are made in a society and in so doing can determine entry points for climate service delivery.

Cognitive and cultural differences can furthermore constrain the use of climate services. An incident in Peru is a point in case: “Local farmers destroyed a measuring station, assuming it prevented the rain, which exemplifies that cultural translators are needed” said Mario Rohrer, managing director of Meteodat. Nongovernmental organizations that are close to local communities and experienced in making complex scientific content comprehensible for them can play a key role in this area.

Fulfilling these roles correctly will improve the supply and use of climate services and make them mainstream. Initiatives involving qualified and equally integrated key stakeholders (from society, science, government and economy) are more sustainable because wide-ranging needs are addressed. A set-up of this kind allows effective production, tailoring and communication of climate services for the benefit of vulnerable societies.

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