Evolving issues brief 2016

This is the first in a series of three short papers that explore the gaps between the CCA and DRR communities, and suggests how to bridge those gaps. This issue considers:

What’s in a word? Terminology in CCA & DRR

About 60% of the terms currently used in the CCA and DRR communities overlap. While the words are used in both fields, they can have quite different meanings, depending on the context and person involved, and resulting in numerous misunderstandings.

It’s an enormous challenge to create a single set of terms and definitions that is accepted by both communities, with additional difficulties when translating terms into different languages, and where definitions evolve over time.

Our online dialogue in November 2015 identified alternative ways to deal with these issues, from the broad role of knowledge brokering to making use of pragmatic and easy to understand frameworks, such as the UNISDR scorecard. The Climate Knowledge Brokers Manifesto was identified as a good starting point to bridge terminology difficulties and find a basis for joint action.

While knowledge brokerage can help to avoid repetition by sharing documents, making better use of available resources and promoting learning from each other, there are obstacles to collaboration: resources in unconnected databases, data that are not open access, use of different key words and the different interpretation of those terms. REEEP aims to solve these obstacles by using ClimateTagger to connect CCA with DRR resources through use of a standard tagging system with a common glossary.

Figure 1: Terms and meanings in CCA and DRR: commonalities and differences. Figure provided by Ian Davis.

Terms and meanings in CCA and DRR: commonalities and differences

Action points

  • Future PLACARD dialogues must include methods to overcome mismatches of terms. Our work on an overview of the complex landscape of CCA and DRR will help navigate to the various knowledge hubs.
  • Research question: what methods can be used in practice to overcome terminology mismatch between CCA and DRR as well as between local vs. national and global level?

PLACARD outputs

Narratives for preparedness & prevention

Narratives are storylines with a purpose, for example with the aim of convincing an audience to act on climate change and disasters. CCA and DRR actors use narratives to motivate the different stakeholders to take preparedness and preventative actions. Our analysis explored whether the two communities use comparable narratives, and which were successful. We also examined how to develop joint strategic narratives between the communities.

Resilience is a term used in both CCA and DRR, and is well understood by businesses, policymakers and citizens. When used in a joint narrative, it was understood by both communities and had a positive tone that triggered innovation and proactive behaviour. Our task is to ensure that both CCA and DRR communities understand resilience as “bouncing forward” instead of “bouncing back” after a climate-related weather event.

The success of a narrative depends on the understanding, interests, values, culture and experience of the recipient, their ability to learn and also to trust. Our findings on what makes successful narratives for specific target groups will be included in a taxonomy we are currently developing.

Our questionnaire revealed that among urban policymakers, the main motivation in using narratives was to increase safety and resilience, as well as to improve the quality of life in the city. Local authorities were found to be the most trusted agency to disseminate information and data on preparedness and prevention measures for citizens, while policymakers also trusted information from scientists.

Figure 2: Step-wise process to develop narratives. Bushell et al. 2016.

Step-wise process to develop narratives

Action points

  • Should PLACARD provide narratives or should we empower people to develop and use their own?
  • We will explore the use of strategic narratives as a soft governance tool, as narratives and communication can affect people’s behaviour if well-designed.
  • Research question: what methods are available to empower people to develop and use narratives successfully?

PLACARD outputs

Connecting Paris & SFDRR agreements

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), the EU Adaptation Strategy and the UNFCCC Paris Agreement (PA) recognise the importance of linking CCA to DRR, as well as the need to implement policies in synergy and coordination with the EU and Member States.

Both the PA and SFDRR express the need to bring DRR and CCA policies closer together, based on the evidence that disasters are frequently, at least in part, related to climate change. SFDRR underpins a uniform and obligatory monitoring system for member states and is linked to clear and ambitious targets – harmonising indicators and aligning implementation stages is crucial to achieving these goals. Integrating CCA and DRR could also reduce the need for multiple reporting responsibilities for the many global frameworks.

National civil protection agencies play an important role in SFDRR, while the environment agencies are in charge of climate adaptation – we recommend that the agencies align their plans so they are mutually reinforcing.

In addition, there are challenges in the implementation gap between national policies and local practices. People understand climate change, disasters and poverty in a holistic way, and could help to develop a more resilient approach – they don’t differentiate between climate, disaster or conflict resilience. Resilient systems are more inclusive, diverse and continually learning and evolving.

Our suggestions to improve collaboration between the global frameworks include:

  • Integrating CCA and DRR at a local level, incorporating the local language and terms at the beginning of the process.
  • Improving communication flow between national and international policymakers, while learning from and involving local communities in strategic planning.
  • Integrating CCA and DRR into a single department with a joint policy plan.
  • Organising joint meetings to discuss strategy for a particular risk and debate how to approach that risk together.
  • Using the national meteorological institutes as the link between the CCA and DRR communities.
  • Using foresight methods to increase awareness of overlapping futures´ perspectives and joint strategies.
  • Enhancing capacity building at local, regional and national levels to ensure that policymakers and organisations understand the differences and commonalities between the PA and SFDRR, and how working together can create solutions that work for everyone.

Actions for PLACARD

  • We will support collaboration between the global agreements through:
    • exploring good local practices
    • assisting policy processes in aligning the implementations
    • carrying out assessments of integrated CCA and DRR during implementation of the agreements.
  • Research question: what governance models are useful to align the implementation of global agreements?

PLACARD outputs

Monitoring and evaluation

Under both the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework, a set of indicators is being developed to enable a standardised system of reporting. To be useful for both CCA and DRR reporting, climate services should connect the different types of climate and disaster related data. This requires collaboration between the various agencies that hold data in order to share and interpret that data into a format which is practical for users.

Some countries do not yet have a scheme to systematically gather data on the ground. Citizen science could play a role in collecting some of this data.

Actions for PLACARD

  • Effort is needed to standardise or harmonise the different types of data – the Copernicus project could play a role.
  • We could aid the integration of both reporting systems, exploring the role of climate services in the development of indicators as discussed in our workshop.
  • Research question: How can progress in DRR and CCA be monitored by using the same set of indicators?

PLACARD outputs

Shared assessment methods & data

Could CCA and DRR use the same assessment methods? In CCA, assessments are based on model outputs, aiming to forecast risks, while DRR methods use historical observations and records. In addition, CCA mainly works on long timescales, while DRR focuses on shorter time frames. As a result, we concluded that we need to understand future ‘megatrends’ and how they could influence current and future climate-related risks and vulnerabilities at regional and local levels.

The certainty attached to risk assessments also differs between the two groups: climate assessment methods are assumed to provide less certain results than disaster assessment methods. There is a growing demand for multi-scale integrated and operational climate risk assessments to inform adaptation strategies, identify hotspot regions and sectors, and monitor and evaluate measures using interdisciplinary approaches. Local governments’ commitment, strong stakeholder involvement and co-production of knowledge in reducing disaster risks and their further implications is an important element of such assessments.

Assessing economic impacts and climate adaptation may provide benefits for policymaking, but the limitations of tools and knowledge should not be overlooked, and that models should be used to advise decision-makers. Current gaps in the methods were caused by:

  • the mismatch of information produced by scientists and the needs from practitioners and policy makers,
  • the lack of data on physical infrastructure assets and economic commodities;
  • inefficiency in overall data sharing;
  • lack of enhanced involvement of the business and private sector.

Loss data includes details on human indicators, economic losses, socio-economic data on population, income, land use in affected regions, as well as information on indirect losses such as business and transport interruption. Acquiring this type of data is crucial to increasing our understanding of disasters and climate change, but access to this data often limited or incomplete.

Common data classifications and indicators that are comparable across Europe and also include transboundary events are essential, for example:

  • Easily accessible damage indicators linked to other data such as hazard intensities.
  • Collection and digitisation of loss data for historical events.
  • A common methodology to index losses and provide information on data quality.
  • An archive of research project data, regularly updated by dedicated national data centres as well as a pan-European data centre.
  • Data should be publicly available with detailed and searchable meta‐data.
  • Targeted and tailored data collection efforts to close data gaps.

Our workshop participants identified barriers to creating joint assessment methods and sharing data, as well as ways to overcome those issues:

  • Commercialisation of data is a barrier. European member states could help by adjusting legislation and regulations to procure open access data.
  • Identify synergies between policy fields and develop a joint monitoring and data collecting system.
  • Data collection institutions require a mandate to collect, process, and store data, and maintain quality control. This would need clear definitions, standards and procedures for data collection.
  • Develop rules on data sharing and open accessibility.
  • Annual user meetings to tailor data and methods to the needs of new users.
  • Increase users’ analytical skills to extract knowledge from the data.

Actions for PLACARD

  • Helping to create a platform for exchange among insurance companies and other organisations to develop rules and procedures to support institutional strengthening on collecting loss data.
  • Help to improve science communication to policymakers and practitioners.

PLACARD outputs

Nature-based solutions

Nature has the potential to buffer the impacts of climate change – nature-based solutions (NBS) are intensively promoted by the European Commission as a way to deal with those impacts.

Nature-based solutions are defined as “the sustainable management, conservation, and restoration of ecosystems to reduce disaster risk and adapt to the consequences of climate change, with the aim of achieving sustainable and resilient development.”.

In the disaster risk reduction community, this approach is called Eco-DRR. As nature-based approaches are used in both CCA and DRR, it is an ideal way to promote collaboration between the communities in order to avoid sub-optimal, independent responses to climate hazards. The two approaches overlap in topics such as risk management for storms, floods, drought, landslides and fires. Local practices, perceptions and knowledge are crucially important at every stage of the process.

Several European cities have put NBS into practice but, they have met with some challenges:

  • Policymakers and stakeholders were unable to find evidence of the co-benefits of NBS.
  • Cities commented on the potential disadvantages of NBS, for example, increased land and property prices, and greater frequency of certain diseases due to the increase in human-nature interactions.
  • Nature could lose its preventative benefits due to climate change or natural disasters.
  • Putting NBS into practice uncovered a deficit in translating scientific expertise to useful material.

The main barrier to implementation of NBS is a lack of funding – the most used approach is to demonstrate the benefits to different sectors and how it could collectively save money. It is important to design financial and economic schemes to engage with those who benefit from the ecosystem services.

The major overall challenge is gaining political agreement and long-term support, as it takes time for NBS to make an impact.

We could help to further harmonise NBS in CCA and DRR by:

  • Bringing together evidence and developing a joint, pragmatic method to monitor impacts.
  • Identifying and developing new mechanisms for science-policy interfaces to support translating scientific knowledge into NBS practices.
  • Assisting the integration of NBS into governance and development plans.
  • Facilitating dialogue and collaboration across sectors and institutions to resolve current NBS challenges.
  • Developing a knowledge base on financial support and funding accessible by CCA and DRR communities.

Actions for PLACARD

Research questions :

  • How to monitor the impact of NBS?
  • What ecosystems can collapse as a consequence of climate change or disasters? And how should this understanding be included in the development of NBS?

PLACARD outputs

Figure: Linkages between EbA and Eco-DRR. Adapted from Doswald & Estrella 2015; CBD 2016.

Linkages between EbA and Eco-DRR

Finance & funding

Finance and funding for the CCA and DRR communities traditionally comes from different funding streams – harmonising those funding models would be helpful in implementing the global frameworks.

Currently, funding is largely assigned to climate change adaptation projects: several DRR actors have succeeded in accessing this funding by connecting with the CCA community. However, due to the fragmentation of funding options, there is a risk of sub-optimal use and overlapping investments. We will help to develop an overview of the CCA and DRR financing architecture in order to explore who provides and who receives funding, and to ensure that funding agencies include specific DRR and CCA criteria in proposal requirements.

Other finance and funding-related issues include the need for guidance to ensure financial coherence, along with the development of methods such as forecast-based financing for use by both public and private sectors that are investing in large projects in risk areas.

Actions for PLACARD

  • Research question: what mechanisms or governance models can be used to foster financial coherence between DRR and CCA?

PLACARD outputs