Claire Davis: Bridging the gap: experiences of communicating climate information between producers and end-users in southern Africa
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Claire Davis: Bridging the gap: experiences of communicating climate information between producers and end-users in southern Africa

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  • Can emphasise here that the core job of scientists is research: they rarely have the skills, nor often the desire, to attempt to communicate that beyond the scientific community, through peer-reviewed journal articles. End users are rarely scientific experts, nor should they be, and the format in which climate information appears in peer-reviewed journals is typically impenetrable. Thus there is a gap which needs to be bridged.
  • Can emphasise here that the core job of scientists is research: they rarely have the skills, nor often the desire, to attempt to communicate that beyond the scientific community, through peer-reviewed journal articles. End users are rarely scientific experts, nor should they be, and the format in which climate information appears in peer-reviewed journals is typically impenetrable. Thus there is a gap which needs to be bridged.
  • RIACSO-acronym is an artefact of times gone by and no longer represents the group, which is essentially a forum of humanitarian organisations working in the SADC region (for those familiar with the UN it is the emergency preparedness and response cluster, which has expanded to include NGOs, including Oxfam, Save the Children, Care, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Committee of the Red Cross, World Vision etc)
  • (This began in 2010 at the request of RIACSO, who recognised that climate change will affect the context of their activities, and because they realised that they may have to take a longer term perspective than the season to season current approach typical for humanitarian preparedness and response) IRI – International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University Chose seasonal forecasts to begin since this is climate (weather) information of most immediate need to the timeframes of operation of humanitarian organisations. Presentation showed a variety of different seasonal forecasts, and explained what they show. Brainstorming was then used to look at these relative to the information required by humanitarian organisations and their clients. Kulima wrote this up and submitted it to the scientists (in this case at the CSIR). They gave written comments, which Kulima “translated” into non-technical jargon, and then came and gave a presentation saying what is already possible, what might soon be possible, and what is not possible based on current science and developments
  •   Benefits of the opening of the communication channel between humanitarian organisations and scientists have clear benefits to both communities. Programming activities by humanitarian organisations can be more effective, both in terms of cost-effectiveness to donors and benefits to recipients. Scientists are also able to tweak their outputs and research foci based on the demands of a user-community, and thus improve the likelihood of their information being actively embraced in decision-making and programming. The dialogue continues, brokered by the boundary organisation, with the ultimate aim that salient climate information is made available to end users in a format that is appropriate to their needs. In addition to seasonal forecasts, to date this has involved requested commentaries on topical issues, such as wheth

Transcript

  • 1. Bridging the Gap *Climate Studies and Modelling, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research [email_address] Experiences of communicating climate information between producers and end-users in southern Africa Katharine Vincent, Claire Davis* , Tracy Cull and Emma Archer
  • 2.
    • Climate change is a cross-cutting issue that will affect, and need to be addressed by, many actors
      • Different sectors
      • At different levels
    • Understanding possible climate change impacts is essential to improve adaptation responses
    • Key question has shifted from:
    • ‘ Will we have to deal with the consequences of climate change’
    • ‘ How should we adapt to the changes which are most likely to occur’.
    Rationale AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011
  • 3. Challenges for Adaptation
    • Lack awareness around climate change at the local level
    • Lack of data
      • Northern hemisphere research bias
      • Africa: fewer scientists per capita
      • Appropriate spatial scales
    • Lack access to information
      • Demand for scientific products from on-the-ground managers/planners/decision-makers in high but often seldom met
    • Lack of understanding
      • Difficulty of communicating climate information
        • Uncertainty
        • Complexity
      • Restricted by
        • Extent of human capital development and training
        • Number of networks and partnerships in the region for co-learning
    AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011
  • 4. Tackling the Challenges
    • Improving the science-practise dialogue
    AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011
    • Stakeholder engagement:
    • two-way communication process between information producers and information users
      • best facilitated by a “boundary organisation” or professional science communicator
  • 5. Two examples from southern Africa 1. Boundary organisation acting between RIACSO and climate and weather scientists 2. Using a professional science communicator in the development of the South Africa Risk and Vulnerability Atlas AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011
  • 6. 1. RIACSO AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011 Forum for humanitarian organisations working in southern Africa to coordinate preparedness and response activities
  • 7. RIACSO process
    • Incorporate climate variability (droughts, floods, cyclones) into planning
      • Consultant from IRI undertook stakeholder mapping and user needs consultation
    • Boundary organisation introduced
      • Presented seasonal forecasts and facilitated evaluation of their use and limitations
      • Presented “wishlist” to scientists
        • Example: distribution of rainfall in the season versus amount rainfall
      • Scientists presented their
      • feedback on the current and
      • anticipated future viability of
      • the “wishlist”
    Source: Vogel, C.H. and O’Brien, K. 2006. Who can Eat Information? Examining the Effectiveness of Seasonal Climate Forecasts and Regional Climate-Risk Management Strategies.  Climate Research  33: 111-122.
  • 8. Evaluation and next steps
    • Benefits of process
      • Humanitarian organisations can be more effective through incorporation of climate risk in programming
      • Scientists can amend their outputs and research focus based on demand
        • Stakeholder engagement avoids “front end loader” approach to information transfer
    • Dialogue continues , brokered by the boundary organisation
    • Activities include commentaries on topical issues and training
    AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011
  • 9. AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011
  • 10. Facilitate the science-policy-practice link
    • Provide decision makers at national, provincial and local levels in South Africa with information to make timely and informed decisions that will minimize sensitivity to climate change risks and improve the chances of adaptation.
    AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011 One-stop shop for relevant environmental risks and related information
  • 11. Process
    • Stakeholder engagement
      • Workshops
      • Questionnaires
    • Development of spatial data portal
    • Development of hard copy Atlas
    • Local sector based case studies
      • demonstrate how information in the Atlas can be used to facilitate decision-making around climate change
    AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011
  • 12. Case Study: Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region
    • Development of climate change handbook
    • Projections for the region:
        • Rainfall, min and max temperature, evaporation, rain days, duration of dry periods
  • 13. Possible adaptation responses Multiple benefits
  • 14. Process cont.
    • Stakeholder engagement
      • Workshops
      • Questionnaires
    • Development of spatial data portal
    • Development of hard copy Atlas
    • Local sector based case studies
    • Engagement with business
    • User Workshops
      • SALGA
    • Human capital
      • development
      • programmes
    • Extension into SADC
      • (including capacity building)
  • 15. Some lessons learnt so far
    • Working with a professional science communicator :
      • Allows scientists to spend more time on the “science”
      • Teaches scientist key lessons in translating their work into a format understandable
    • Climate change adaptation is already underway (not termed adaptation):
    • Stakeholder engagement has proved essential in ensuring that the outcomes reflect the information needs
    • Plan enough time for effective stakeholder engagement
    • A variety of techniques need to be employed to understand the range of stakeholder views
    • Important to remember that people give their own views and identify what the potential issues are for them – value laden statements
    • Be prepared to listen
    • Importance of tracking stakeholders uptake of climate information
    AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011
  • 16. Some successes so far
    • 1. Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) is now developing an climate change response strategy:
      • Drive research to address knowledge gaps by supporting MSc and PhD students
      • Focus on ex-situ conservation vs. expansion protected areas
    • 2. Provincial policy is being influenced – Gauteng Climate Change Response Strategy
    • 3. Data and information provided through this project is being used in reports (Regional Forestry Strategy) and in local studies (ground water and private conservation management)
    • 4. Started a dialogue between stakeholders in the region
      • Share common goal: sustainability of the region
      • Altas Project is ongoing
      • Continued engagement and follow-up and evaluation
  • 17. Thank You
    • Contact Details
    • www.rvatlas.org.za
      • Email: [email_address]
      • Tel: +27 - (0)11 - 358 0168
      • Fax: +27 - (0)11 - 726 5405
    AfricaAdapt Symposium, Addis Ababa, 9-11 March 2011