Climate knowledge for action
When the early explorers set off from their familiar coastlines, the risks were considerable. Only those who were well prepared returned.
Today we are on a journey of exploration in a changing climate. Our descendants will inherit a world left to them by their forebears. More than ever, we need scientific knowledge to guide us.
It is not only the natural variability in the Earth’s climate, but also human-induced climate change that will challenge us. Increasing amounts of invisible greenhouse gases are slowly raising the temperature of the atmosphere. As the Earth warms, sea levels rise, Arctic sea-ice retreats, rainfall increases, and droughts are more severe.
Communities everywhere will be affected. Some changes may be positive, but many others will have a negative impact. Our capacity for innovation, leadership and community responsibility will be tested.
Global Framework for Climate Services
The Global Framework for Climate Services is based on the philosophy that efficient management of the climatic risks today is the foundation for managing the changed climatic risks of tomorrow. Sound scientific knowledge underpins this foundation.
Where they exist, climate services are extremely effective. Prominent user sectors are agriculture, water management, health, disaster risk reduction, planning and energy.
But there is a wide gap between the needs for climate services and their current provision, especially in climate-vulnerable developing countries. The High-level Task Force for the Global Framework concluded that about 70 developing countries have very few or almost no climate services and therefore insufficient information about the risk of extreme weather conditions.
There is already a solid basis for the global provision of climate services. This includes existing weather and climate observation systems, data exchange, climate research programmes and risk management techniques.
Plugging the gaps
The goal of the Framework is to provide relevant and timely information to every sector ranging from government decision-makers to businesses to farmers.
Thus, for instance, advance warning of an impending drought, such as the Horn of Africa crisis in 2011, would be disseminated to farmers and pastoralists who need to know when to plant crops and slaughter livestock.
The Framework will represent a truly global effort, translating scientific advances into tools that enable universal knowledge to be downscaled to meet local needs.
Priorities and beneficiaries
Initial priorities for the implementation of the Framework will focus on four key areas: food security, water, health and disaster risk reduction. In the longer term, other climate-sensitive sectors, including energy and transport and tourism will be incorporated.
The Framework will be implemented progressively in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. Many technical capacities will need to be developed. However, there is already a strong knowledge base to improve the Global Climate Observing System and to target developing countries where quick upgrades are possible. Some projects could begin soon.
Most of the costs of implementing the Framework will be absorbed as part of the ongoing improvement of existing national programmes. Additional costs to manage and develop the Framework are mainly for priority projects to assist developing countries. These were estimated by the High-level Taskforce to be between US$ 400 million and US$ 550 million for the 10-year period 2012 to 2021. This is a small price to pay to reduce weather and climate-related losses in lives and property, and to unleash the benefits of the billions of dollars spent on climate observation and information systems like satellites and super-computers.
As an illustration, the value of hydro-meteorological information in France alone is between 1–8 billion euros per year, or four to 30 times the cost of its production.
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