New insights into how nations can make climate services work towards achieving both resilience and adaptation goals

Improved climate services, that is, the provision of accurate and relevant climate information useful to decision-makers — both institutional policymakers and individual end-users — can help mitigate weather and climate risk.

These services, which lie at the core of the foundation for effective climate adaptation and resilience action, are central to the mission of the Climate Investment Funds‘ (CIF) Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR).

Through PPCR, CIF has invested USD222 million in 12 climate services projects implemented by its partners—the African Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the World Bank.

To promote learning from its PPCR experiences, CIF has recently published three studies on CIF-supported hydrological and meteorological (“hydromet”) and climate projects:

  • Transforming Weather, Water and Climate Services – Synthesis Report (see full study): Commissioned by CIF, the study synthesizes key lessons from PPCR’s projects to expand hydromet services in diverse sectors and institutions in Jamaica, Mozambique, and Nepal. It offers insights and learnings for hydrological and meteorological agencies and funding institutions in their development, delivery, and strengthening of hydromet and climate services (HMCS).
  • Learning Review of CIF-Supported Hydromet and Climate Services Projects (see full study): The learning review shares lessons learned from 12 PPCR projects in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries due to their high exposure to climate risks and hydro-meteorological hazards, along with a history of under-investment in hydromet and climate services (HMCS). The study also identifies priorities and opportunities for more effective and sustainable investments in future HMCS projects.
  • Strengthening Weather and Climate Information Services: Highlights from PPCR-Supported Projects (see full study): Using the the weather and climate information services (WCIS) value chain as a framework, this brief highlights some of the early results and lessons from the PPCR projects in Grenada, Jamaica, Mozambique, Nepal, and Tajikistan from 2011 to 2020. The five components of the WCIS chain consist of (1) observation and monitoring; (2) data and information management; (3) research, forecasting, and modelling; (4) service development and delivery; as well as (5) training and capacity building.

All three studies reflect CIF’s commitment to its membership in the Alliance for Hydromet Development, whose aim is to improve the effectiveness of hydromet investments in developing countries.

This blog captures the highlights of the three studies by discussing the role of HMCS in addressing climate change; experiences from PPCR-supported HMCS projects; and lessons for enhancing the effectiveness of future HMCS investments.

Role of HMCS in Addressing Climate Change

HMCS include weather forecasts, early-warning systems, seasonal and decadal forecasts, along with climate change projections. In the face of climate change, the timely delivery of relevant and accurate weather information is critical for ensuring effective climate risk management and long-term adaptation. Furthermore, HMCS are also vital for sustaining the economies of developing countries with a high level of dependence on natural resources for the livelihoods of its people. Specifically, policymakers and individual end-users rely on accurate and timely HMCS for planning and decision-making within climate-sensitive sectors and industries such as agriculture, fisheries, hydroelectric energy, aviation, and shipping.

Climate investments are driven by the importance of supporting underfunded national meteorological agencies to address the gaps in the WCIS value chain, which can undermine the climate resilience of climate-vulnerable countries. Through its targeted investments, PPCR’s projects sought to tackle the needs identified in (1) observations and monitoring for gathering data, as well as (2) the development and delivery of improved services that meet end-users’ needs. The ultimate aim of these investments is to improve the quality of services, particularly those that inform decision-making in priority sectors.

Experiences of PPCR-Supported Projects

Through upgrading equipment, technical capacities, data systems, and, to a lesser extent, user services, the 12 PPCR-supported HMCS projects have contributed to progress in the five components of the WCIS value chain—observations and monitoring systems; data and information management; forecasting and modeling; improved services; along with training and capacity building.

Despite the promising developments, the three CIF studies also point to gaps and challenges:

  • Insufficient collaboration across government agencies leading to inefficiencies (e.g. the duplication of responsibilities and suboptimal data sharing arrangements);
  • Inadequate involvement of end-users in the design of climate information, products, and services to ensure fit-for-purpose products that support decision-making; Challenges related to the delivery of weather services, particularly those informing decision-making;
  • High government staff turnover; and
  • Lack of secure or predicable financing for ongoing operations and service delivery.

While these areas have been set out separately, they often overlap with one another on the ground to disrupt project implementation. For example, the targeted development of effective weather and climate services could be initially affected by delays in procuring equipment that, in turn, impacted its service delivery. This could subsequently lead to the postponement of the service delivery objectives, or even their abandonment, during PPCR project implementation, should other priorities emerge.

Conversely, PPCR-supported projects have also been successful in service delivery when meteorological services, intermediaries, and end-users are highly engaged in their collaboration with one another. In Jamaica, for example, the improvement in the technical and institutional capacities along the country’s WCIS value chain was bolstered by a campaign to raise public awareness on preparedness for climate change and mobilize public support.

Lessons for Enhancing the Effectiveness of HMCS Investments

CIF’s PPCR-project experiences have yielded some important lessons for future HMCS projects and other HMCS investors. A key lesson relates to the need to shift the focus of future investments in climate services from equipment to the development and delivery of HMCS that meet end-users’ needs. Specifically, national hydromet service providers need to work with line ministries and end-users to design projects in order to develop, pilot, and deliver decision-relevant information, products, and services, such as seasonal forecasts for farmers or hurricane and shipping forecasts.

Furthermore, the CIF studies have also highlighted the importance of building the capacity of user groups to recognize the value of climate information and bolster their ability to interpret and use this information. In doing so, users can provide feedback to aid the design of fit-for-purpose climate information, services, and products.

This leads to the third lesson— the need to provide feedback loops during project implementation. The monitoring of a project would allow for timely course corrections in response to end-user feedback, changes in circumstances, and/or emerging priorities.

Finally, to ensure continuous delivery of climate services, a consideration for future projects is to identify ways to make service delivery financially sustainable. In some instances, as in the case of Nepal, core government funding has been obtained to cover staff and operational costs. A few CIF-supported projects have also introduced fees for services to help make the services financially sustainable. However, a far more viable option is to build upon the growing number of partnerships with the private sector to produce climate services to make up for the meteorological agencies’ funding gaps.

Ultimately, there is still much room for improvement in the design and implementation of HMCS projects to develop and deliver climate services effectively. The CIF studies have illuminated the need for all stakeholders—producers of climate services, policymakers, intermediaries, and end-users—to work together to address the gaps in the WCIS value chain. By collaborating with one another to ensure the timely delivery of decision-relevant climate information, they can achieve climate resilience and adaptation for their communities and countries.

Value chain image courtesy of World Bank.

This report originally appeared on the Climate Investment Funds website. Reprinted here by permission.

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