In a changing climate, we need usable climate knowledge and networking to support adaptive management and decision-making. ‘Adapt to what exactly?’ is the first question any one or a decision-maker may ask when faced with the need to prepare for the consequences of climate change. Without knowing the expected changes in climatic conditions, proactive and anticipatory adaptation approaches are difficult. We might identify no-regret/low-regret measures that are suitable to different climate change scenarios, but the more we know, the better our responses can be.
What are climate Knowledge products and networking?
Tangible climate knowledge products range from global emission scenarios and climate model outputs to local impact and vulnerability assessment results. Generating these products requires data and information from various sectors of research. Climate knowledge products can describe historical, current and future climate conditions. They can entail future predictions and projections on monthly, seasonal or decadal timescales and their impact on natural and human systems. Climate networking can be understood as those activities that deal with research, study, generating and providing this knowledge to a wide range of users in order to support climate resilient development. As we are dealing with a rather new field of activity, the concept of climate services still needs to be defined more clearly in close collaboration with users.
Who provides climate Knowledge & Networking?
With regards to providing climate change knowledge and networking, there is no long-standing, well-established tradition. Taking future climate developments into account is a rather new and fast-growing field of activities and actors. As there are various types of climate knowledge, there are various sources for support, ranging from national research institutes to National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) to global and regional information platforms. Recently, a growing number of governments are starting to customise climate knowledge and target it to specific users based on their experience in weather forecasting.
What makes climate knowledge usable?
In order to make a well-informed adaptation decision, decision-makers and their advisors have to make use of climate knowledge. The knowledge provider-user relationship is crucial here. Due to different perspectives, there is often a gap between what providers understand as useful information and what users recognise as usable. Knowledge providers may not completely know potential users’ decision-making processes and contexts, so sometimes the information that is produced remains unused. Or given their limited understanding of the matter, decision-makers might misinterpret climate knowledge and make the wrong decisions. Explaining the level of uncertainty associated with a particular product is also vital, and therefore the exchange and dialogue between the user and the provider side is of utmost importance.