How can information for adaptation decision making be collected and disseminated so as to advance integration of climate risks into plans and policies and be useful for those who need it most?
Timely, relevant and targeted information is the lifeblood of effective decision making. In this expert paper series on information for adaptation decision making, we ask authors to focus on innovative means for collecting and distributing the information required for countries to take effective national-level actions for climate change adaptation.
Merely having the “right” information does not ensure that a policy or plan will adequately address risks or opportunities presented by a changing climate. To successfully implement such policies and plans, information must also be collected and disseminated in ways that serve those who need it, such as affected local communities and government decision makers. In addition, enabling societies to adapt to climate change will require establishing systems that transfer relevant information both from the national to the local level and vice versa.
Of course, many countries will not have adaptation-relevant information. As a result, critical information gaps may affect some countries’ ability to maximize efforts to achieve climate resilience. The importance of filling these gaps should not be minimized. In this question, however, we seek specifically to assess the following: when useful information on climate risks and vulnerability does exist – even if incomplete or imperfect – how can this information be effectively collected and disseminated?
Collection of Information
As climate change intensifies, collecting relevant information will become increasingly urgent and will expand in scope and scale. Both the increased variability that will result from a changing climate and the long-term nature of many climate-related impacts suggest that information for adaptation will need to be continually updated over long periods of time. Previously uncollected types of information may also be necessary to promote adaptation efforts. Both long-term political will and community buy-in will be needed to provide the capacity and support for such expanded collection activities. As climate-related surprises are also likely to trigger the need for rapid information collection in affected areas, vulnerable countries will need to develop both institutions and incentives accordingly.
Dissemination of Information
To be useful, information, once collected, needs to be analyzed and distributed to those who need it in a relevant and timely manner. For example, a farmer in the Sahel may not have much use for a spreadsheet of average regional rainfall over the past 100 years. However, if he or she has forewarning of when to expect reduced rainfall in the future and how that may affect yields, then a farmer can make potentially livelihood-saving interventions. Adding to the challenge facing governments, information for climate adaptation must reach all those who need it. New, innovative methods of information distribution will be crucial in a changing climate. A central online clearinghouse of data may not be accessible for a rural community in developing countries, but members of that community may be reachable by cell phone text message.
Information collection and dissemination is a mammoth task that will require significant support from local populations. Incentives for collection of information at the local level – as well as distribution of information across governance levels and communities – may therefore be needed to ensure ongoing provision and delivery of accurate data.
It is in the context of these imposing challenges to information collection and dissemination that we ask authors in this series to shed light on the question: How can information for adaptation decision making be collected and disseminated so as to advance integration of climate risks into plans and policies and be useful for those who need it most? In responding, we ask authors to draw upon real-world examples of innovative processes for information collection and dissemination, whether from a climate context or another context that presents a similar need. We also invite authors to take into account any or all of the following sub-questions:
- What models and incentives can enable effective information collection?
- Given the long-term nature of climate impacts, how can these models and incentives be sustained to continuously gather information?
- Given the need for updating of information as climate risks evolve, what are effective models and incentives for ensuring continuous updates of information?
- What are models and incentives for information gathering in response to events/surprises such as weather-related disasters?
- How can information effectively be translated into a form that fits users’ needs? Who should be the target when translating information?
- What national-level processes and incentives can enable effective information dissemination?
 We have also commissioned an expert series of papers looking at what types of information are needed for integration of climate risks into planning and policymaking.
- Expert Perspectives on...
- Does climate change require new approaches to making decisions?
- How can we balance today’s pressing needs with long term risks?
- How can development agencies help vulnerable countries adapt effectively?
- Must we fundamentally change course to conserve ecosystems in a changing climate?
- How can information for adaptation decision making be collected and disseminated so as to advance integration of climate risks into plans and policies and be useful for those who need it most?
- What types of information are needed for adaptation decision making?
- Thought leaders explore how to meet both today’s development challenges and tomorrow’s climate risks.
- How can national-level governments learn from the private sector and encourage investment and decision making to promote the public good in a changing climate?
- How can civil society best support, and hold accountable, national-level governments in their efforts to integrate climate change risks into planning and policy-making processes?
- Case Studies
- Controlling Yangtze River Floods: A New Approach
- Building Resilience to Extreme Weather Events: Index-Based Livestock Insurance in Mongolia
- Namibia: Combating Land Degradation with Tools for Local-Level Decision-Making
- Nepal: Responding Proactively to Glacial Hazards
- Increasing Food Security: Mali's National Meteorological Service Helps Farmers Manage Climate Risk
- Indonesia: Managing Peatland Fire Risk in Central Kalimantan Province
- Mangrove Restoration and Rehabilitation for Climate Change Adaptation in Vietnam
- Bangladesh's Comprehensive Approach to Disaster Management
- Rwanda: Ecosystem Restoration and Sustainable Hydropower Production
- South Africa: Ecosystem-Based Planning for Climate Change
- China's Agricultural Development: Adaptation in Action
- Brazil: Fire and Flood Responses in the Amazon
- In-Country Simulations
- Decision-Making In Depth
These commentaries were commissioned by the World Resources Report to react to the Expert Perspectives series. Below each paper in the series you will find a comment box for your feedback. Please respond.