Climate services for disaster risk reduction

January 2018, Bologna

A 1.5 day workshop co-organised by Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), PLACARD & European Research Area for Climate Services (ERA4CS)

Jaroslav Mysiak (CMCC, PLACARD) welcomed the participants on behalf of CMCC.

Rob Swart (WENR, PLACARD) introduced the objective of the workshop: how should climate services be developed in Europe to effectively support Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). He then interviewed representatives of the three organising programmes, who described these programmes and their interest in the issues to be discussed at then workshop: Roger Street (University of Oxford) for ERA4CS, Mário Pulquerio (FC.ID) for PLACARD, and Carlo Buontempo (ECMWF) for C3S.

Break-out group A

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the data supply infrastructure you are using?

  • Which sources of climate information do you currently use (public/private services, research) and for what purposes?
  • Why have you chosen to use these sources (quality, accessibility, formal requirement)?
  • Which strengths and limitations do these sources have?
  • What additional types of information (climate or other) you’d need for your activities and is currently missing from the public offering?

Findings from group A

  • The variety of sources being used is large and dependent on sector, region and purpose of the specific climate service, so further work on the 1st question requires a larger pool of users than represented in the workshop.
  • Climate services can support all elements of the disaster management cycle in different ways requiring different information and data sources – climate information can strengthen prevention and recovery, but also strategic planning for preparedness and response.
  • It was recommended to develop an event catalogue (or library), including meteorological and impact data, which could be developed and maintained at C3S, to use findings from an extreme event in particular locations to another location because of the scarcity of information for that location, cautiously and taking into account local characteristics. Citizens can be involved in developing and cataloguing local impact profiles.
  • A strong recommendation was to consider vulnerability and exposure information (impacts, elements at risk, loss) in the climate services to be provided for DRR.
  • Criteria for selection of specific sources mentioned included accessibility, accuracy, confidence and trust, guidance on selection of scenarios or models, availability of adequate fit-for-purpose metadata, transformation tools and indicators derived from raw data. Standardisation would help selection and use of data sources.
  • One important issue raised was that at least as important as the quality and accessibility of climate data is the quality of the system of interactions for effectively and efficiently sharing the information in support of DRR, i.e. the connections between different relevant governmental levels, between scientists and practitioners, and between actors at one level.

Sergio Castellari (EEA) facilitated a plenary session in which Diogo de Gusmão-Sørensen (DG R&I) gave a European outlook for adaptation science, research and innovation, Silvano Pecora (ARPAE) presented Italian experiences with climate services for disaster risk reduction in the water sector and Tom Philp (XLCatlin) explained how the insurance industry uses climate information for DRR.

Break-out group B

How can climate services facilitate and improve the integration of disaster risk reduction into different sectors and regions?

  • Which aspects of DRR decision-making are more like those for Climate Change Adaptation (CCA)? Where are they dissimilar?
  • Is there different between sectors? (e.g. water, agriculture and forestry, energy and transport, health, insurance, coastal management, tourism, infrastructure)
  • How can we best factor into DRR practices the sectoral knowledge on the changes in the sectoral risk profile?
  • How can the connections between climate service provision for DRR and CCA be improved to support mutual learning and innovation?

Findings from group B

  • The terminology of “climate services” and potential related misunderstandings about what they cover can be an important impediment for uptake for DRR. In particular, for DRR the distinction between short and long term can be confusing and connecting climate and weather information can enhance uptake of CS by DRR actors (changes in frequency and intensity of weather events). Sub-seasonal to longer time scale predictions (monthly, seasonal, decadal) can help integrating CCA and DRR , taking skill limitations into account. Also, connecting hazard (climate and weather) information with vulnerability information is important for recognising the relevance of climate services for DRR.
  • Important but very different clients of climate services for DRR include municipalities (e.g. local civil protection/emergency services), insurance companies (public and private) and the financial sector (e.g., stress testing of investments). For ethical reasons, there should be no financial barriers to access disaster-relevant information. For most sectoral clients, a multi-hazard approach was recommended.
  • Obstacles to the development of climate services for DRR include lack of political cohesion, uncertainty about CS provider authority, continuity, planning, legal requirements (regulation, standards), sense of ownership and trust. Reporting requirements such as those in the context of the Sendai Framework support the integration of CCA and DRR.
  • A centralised coordinated European climate agency could coordinate the data and standards on how to use the available data and maintain the tools and knowledge that is produced from the many different climate services projects (legacy). Alternatively (or complementary in case the European level would be limited to a repository of climate data rather than a climate service agency), a different model could be developed that focuses on innovation and market uptake (e.g., related to the EU Innovation Council).
  • Climate services are not only useful for DRR from a CCA perspective. DRR can also strengthen CCA when it can be demonstrated that CCA investments can address some key risks in the short-term in addition to having long-term benefits.
  • DRR it is not a sector but a cross-disciplinary approach in civil protection and should also be integrated in other sectors (e.g., water management, health, insurance, agriculture and forestry), taking into account the specific characteristics of each sector. This has to be reflected in the C3S Sectoral Information Systems (SIS).
  • Training and capacity development on climate data and methods is important for advancing climate service development for DRR, including data providers, but also knowledge brokers and technical staff of public and private sector users.

Break-out group C

Specific DRR climate information needs

  • What aspects of the decision-making processes within DRR would benefit from climate services and why?
  • What other specific data/information may extend the existing services?
  • The provision of which information should be best left to the national/international or regional/local level, respectively for the 2 groups?
  • The provision of which information could we benefit the most from a standardised pan-European approach?

Findings from group C:

  • The question which climate service information is needed to support decision-making (how would it change a decision? how can the added value be demonstrated? Which communication means best support decisions?) is very important but difficult to answer. More work is needed to evaluate and demonstrate the impacts of climate services on decision-making. This is relevant for climate services in general but maybe even more for DRR.
  • Climate services would be useful for all phases of the Prevention-Preparedness-Response-Recovery cycle if properly integrated into planning and design. Emphasis would be on incorporating climate and related vulnerability information in strategic planning.
  • Also in the context of this session the importance of vulnerability and impact information was stressed – hazard information can be but a small component of the information needed for a good risk assessment.
  • Climate services are needed at different administrative levels for different types of decisions. An authoritative European source would be specifically important for countries with a relatively weak national climate information system. European information is to be complemented by local and regional information, which may not only sometimes be formally required, but can also be more relevant (e.g., local vulnerability information). Effective communication and knowledge sharing between administrative levels is important.
  • Disasters do not respect borders – a European service is particularly relevant for transboundary risks. Existing collaboration between C3S and Copernicus Emergency Management Service (droughts, floods, fires) should be further strengthened in this context. A European service should also play a key role in standardising or harmonising information, which would facilitate cross-border risk assessments.
  • Roles of different providers (national hydromet institutions, knowledge brokers) are usually complementary and differ between countries. For private climate service providers/knowledge brokers their business case is the most important driver, for public services the policy requirements (e.g., from national adaptation strategies and civil protection plans).

Break-out group D

Future steps to be taken: filling knowledge gaps and developing a viable climate service market

  • What are the key data and information gaps in terms of data and services for DRR (from research, monitoring, modelling)?
  • How could these gaps best be filled?
  • How can the emerging market of climate services be strengthened in terms of reaching out to the DRR community? Please describe/ discuss any specific actions that you consider important for this purpose.
  • What should the relationships between C3S and other programs (national and international, public and private sector) be and how could they be best harmonised?
  • What type of information and/or knowledge can CS add value (e.g. increased competitiveness) to stakeholder activities?

Findings from group D

  • It has yet to be demonstrated that improving climate projections leads to better decision-making and therefore guidance on how to select and apply the most suitable information maybe more important than more and better data, taking into account that information good for one type of decision is not necessarily the best for another. Research on the relationship between climate information and decision-making is urgently needed, which would involve social science research to better understand the social, political and governance dimensions of CA for DRR and also to support the development and application of effective communication methods.
  • Additional research on improved modelling, monitoring and re-analysis is still useful, but may be guided more by a good analysis of what users really need (in terms of indicators, resolution, frequency) and maybe designed as a co-production process.
  • Issues about which knowledge was considered specifically weak included turbulence, tropical cyclones, the relationship between climate and air quality, limited public awareness of risks, effectiveness of different communication methods.
  • Recommendations such as the above can still be provided to the Commission in the context of the consultations for the revision of the European Adaptation Strategy and the development of the 9th Framework Programme.
  • Climate service market development for DRR was considered to be slow partly because of the current phase of raising awareness of the relevance of climate for DRR, which for various reasons is seen as a public responsibility. In a next phase, a move towards specific assessments of risks and opportunities at local or company level, would foster “premium services” for tailoring information at a cost.
  • Four ways of improving the provision of climate services are suggested: (a) develop and advertise good practice examples (showcases, successful business cases), (b) develop a quality assessment and control system for climate services, (c) develop capacity to provide tailored services, including data, indicators and tools, and (d) taking a broad perspective on climate services, e.g. including non-climate information (vulnerability, exposure) and supply chain vulnerability.
  • Four ways of improving the demand for climate services are mentioned: (a) make assessment of climate risks and response measures obligatory (legally required), (b) standardise methods for operations and design (e.g., ISO), (c) require disclosure of climate risk information for investments, e.g. for companies to get loans or insurance by the financial sector, and (d) promote climate-resilience and climate-friendliness as a reputational issue.
  • C3S should actively connect not only to public and private institutions that deal with CCA but also with DRR. C3S could also actively create opportunities for climate service providers to meet, share experiences and learn to help foster market growth.