Development of climate services for disaster risk reduction

Climate services are defined, in the context of the European Commission’s initiative in this field, as:

Transforming climate-related data and other information into customised products such as projections, trends, economic analysis, advice on best practices, development and evaluation of solutions, and any other climate-related service liable to benefit that may be of use for the society.

Because climate change in many regions increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather and climate events, access to relevant and quality climate information is crucial to enable informed decisions aimed at addressing existing and emerging risks. In this context, it is important to understand future trends of extreme events, as it is to understand the trends of slow-onset events caused by climate change. However, while climate services have been associated with climate change adaptation (CCA), this is still an unfamiliar term within the disaster risk reduction (DRR) community. Consequently, the development of climate services that can cater to the needs and requirements of the DRR community and its various actors is not yet adequately explored.

A range of European and international initiatives and programmes do consider DRR in the context of climate services. For instance, DRR is one of the five priorities of the Global Framework for Climate Services and a key sector for the Sectoral Information System of the Copernicus Climate Change Service or C3S, and for the Climate Services Partnership. However, in many of the current initiatives on climate services, DRR aspects are considerably underdeveloped in practice.

We aim to serve as a hub for dialogue, knowledge exchange and collaboration between CCA and DRR communities. Within this context, PLACARD organised a session at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) workshop Innovations in Climate Services in 2015, and co-organised a session at the 2017 European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCA), with the projects MARCO, EUMACS and (SECTEUR, and a webinar, with the projects ERA4CSs and ESPRESSO, on climate services for DRR. These three dialogue events highlighted the fact that climate services are important in the context of DRR, especially for informing planning related to disaster risk prevention and recovery. It also became evident that there is a need to engage with a variety of relevant stakeholders in the DRR community, to inform better the future development of climate services and to ensure that the provided services and information are useful, relevant, accessible and credible.

As this topic is highly relevant for preparing societies for future challenges brought by a changing climate, it is important to further understand how climate services can be effectively developed to meet the various needs of the DRR community, considering the diversity of its actors and sub-communities, and to identify the current research and innovation gaps for developing such services in order to better support decision-making in climate risk management.

To address these questions, we organised a workshop in collaboration with C3S.

This article first appeared in the Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre newsletter.