USAID/Rwanda visit to the Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture project.

Climate Information Partnership Delivers Development Gains

By Pete Epanchin

As climate patterns shift, governments around the world — whether national or local — are struggling to find reliable and comprehensive information about current and predicted weather conditions. Will drought threaten municipal water supplies? Will unseasonable flooding wipe out crops? Will pastoralists need to move their herds further than normal to find good pasture? This sort of information is hard enough for governments in relatively wealthy countries to find, but is often unattainable for less wealthy societies. There is a growing need for accessible climate information and services.

Since 2015, the Climate Services for Resilient Development (CSRD) partnership has served as an advocate, educator, and developer of demand-driven climate services that empower countries and communities to anticipate and manage risks and opportunities. As its name suggests, this international, public-private partnership is committed to achieving societal benefits from the production, translation, transfer, and use of climate information. It does this by applying the best available climate science to decision-making across time scales and sectors, including agriculture, water, health and disaster risk management.

Initially, CSRD set out to build upon previous efforts in Bangladesh, Colombia and Ethiopia. In each country, consultations and needs assessments revealed demand and identified specific needs and priorities that were potential opportunities for CSRD. This led to on-going collaboration with national meteorological and sectoral partners to promote the tailoring, dissemination and use of climate information in decision making.

Through the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) CSRD is working with partners in Bangladesh and South Asia on actionable information for the agricultural sector including drought and flood risk, rain forecasts, crop disease forecasts, and the probability of extreme heat. In Colombia, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) has launched an agro-climatic platform with weather and climate information tailored to maize and rice growers, work that received recognition and an award from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In Ethiopia, CSRD is bringing pastoralist communities information gathered by satellites, which enables improved pasture and livestock management.

In addition to co-developed climate services, the CSRD partnership has found eager participants for climate services training, outreach, knowledge exchange, workshops and advocacy. Working in alignment with the Global Framework for Climate Services of the World Meteorological Organization, CSRD has sponsored and co-organized technical exchanges that engage a global community of practice — from computer modelers, to smallholder farmers interested in participatory climate services, to disaster managers and public health officials. These exchanges have brought together a variety of practitioners and sectoral users for sharing best practices, tools, models, challenges and successes. The exchanges have been well received, and CSRD has used these as an opportunity to advocate for further climate services.

CSRD was founded by eight partners: the U.S. Government (led by USAID and in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the U.K. Government (with participation from the U.K. Met Office and the Department for International Development), the American Red Cross (currently the CSRD chair), Esri, Google, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund. CSRD collaborates with many contributing partners, including host-country governments, CIAT, CIMMYT, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University, and many others. CSRD partners bring diverse areas of expertise together to meet the challenge of helping developing countries build their resilience to climate change.

The partnership’s work in the three focal countries has started to expand regionally through collaboration with additional countries and regional partners. Looking to the future, the partnership will emphasize regional and global opportunities for advocacy for climate services, knowledge sharing, training and capacity building.

Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Integration
Adaptation, Climate Risk Management, Private Sector Engagement, Partnership, Resilience, Weather

Pete Epanchin

Pete Epanchin is a climate change advisor with the Global Climate Change Office at the US Agency for International Development where he primarily works on climate change adaptation including the use of Earth observation data for improved decision making. Previously, at the EPA he helped to develop an accounting methodology for carbon dioxide emissions from biomass fuels. His scientific research has focused on species' responses to invasive species and, separately, to climate change.

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