Climate information services (CIS) promote adaptation to climate variability in many sectors, from agriculture to water, by providing tailored and timely knowledge about climate patterns in the form of tools, products, websites, radio broadcasts, and bulletins. Yet, many countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, struggle to deliver CIS due to shortfalls in budget, infrastructure, governance, capacity, and security risks. The USAID Sustainable CIS Project aims to dismantle these barriers and realize solutions by supporting National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and private entities.
In September 2018, the Sustainable CIS project organized a regional outreach workshop in Dakar, Senegal that brought together NMHSs, the private sector, academia, international organizations, and the donor community. These stakeholders collaborated to overcome silos between project contributors by examining contributions to the sector, including the baseline assessment of NMHS capacities and financial planning tools, and next steps moving forward. These valuable discussions can ensure that the CIS project leaves a legacy that benefits NMHSs and other global weather enterprises. Lessons that emerged through participant engagement in this workshop include:
- The NMHS capacities and financial planning tools are valuable for national public/NMHS strategic internal planning, engagement with donors, complementarities, and ‘win-win’ synergies with the private sector. Even though the short-term uptake and long-term application of CIS tools has yet to be determined, these tools can support the critical and often-overlooked role that CIS provides a service rather than simply deliver data.
- There is an important need for alignment and integration of the aforementioned tools with the existing national and global mechanisms. For example, many African NMHS already use other CIS support tools developed under projects funded by the World Bank and the Green Climate Fund, among others.
- There is a need for greater alignment between stakeholders at different levels, including: national and subnational entities, Regional Climate Centers, and multilateral CIS organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Endorsement of CIS tools and political support by institutional stakeholders is essential for Sustainable CIS Project’s tools to be adopted and widely used
- Efficient uptake of the Sustainable CIS Project tools will hinge on the leadership skills of technical staff; capacity to operate the tools, and effective strategic planning. The WMO supports its Members in several ways to develop the necessary capacity; for example, strategic planning guidance is provided in the WMO Integrated Strategic Planning Handbook.
In addition to the tools developed under Sustainable CIS, participants discussed the important role that changing global weather enterprise landscape and NMHSs engagement with the private sector can play in filling CIS funding and delivery gaps. WMO presented its Public-Private Engagement Framework and Global Weather Enterprise Forum, which captures critical first steps towards defining the rules of engagement to ensure a level-playing field for weather, water, and climate stakeholders. This framework builds on the WMO Convention, existing policies, and related regulations and guidance.
Expanding on the conversation of the role of the private sector in CIS, Winrock International presented the white paper, Climate Information Services: Market Assessment and Business Model Review, produced under the Sustainable CIS Project. This paper offers a market analysis for weather and climate information services in Sub-Saharan Africa and a review of existing and potential private sector business models for these services. This review also highlights the need for tailored approaches to specific socio-economic and legal contexts to ensure that NMHSs maximize financial and human resources and utilize partnerships with other stakeholders within the global weather enterprise.
Overall, the regional workshop provided a productive platform for discussing the tools produced through Sustainable CIS and the way contributors and NMHSs can move the needle on CIS forward. In continuation to this discussion, the Moving Climate Services Forward: Systems Perspective event will take place on November 27, 2018, in Washington, DC. This event will provide a forum for participants from NMHSs, the public and private sector, and the donor community to contribute to the dialogue on promoting user perspectives in climate services design, delivery, and feedback. The event will cover the role of the private sector in climate services; assessment of government capacity to deliver climate services, the effectiveness of climate services on the ground, donor coordination around country-led and co-designed climate services, and tracking progress of climate service use and delivery goals. To participate in this event, please find the details below:
Olga Krylova is a climate project support officer at the World Meteorological Organization. She holds MSc in Environmental Change and Management, University of Oxford. She has over 8 years of national and international experience with the EEAS, European Commission, on the EU-Russia environment, climate change, and energy policy dialogues; WFP community-based adaptation projects; FAO conference and protocol, among others. Her interests include public administration and climate policy/traditional ecological knowledge.