Summary of the conference
The fifth International Conference on Climate Services (ICCS5) successfully took place in Cape Town from the 28th of February to the 2nd of March. During three days, sessions covering a wide range of subjects provided us with insights on how the arena of climate services is developing and where the limits and gaps in its development are. We were also witness of a market place in which different activities, projects products and services were interactively presented. The ICCS in a biannual turn collects the international Climate Services Partnership (CSP) and international guests. This year it was organized by the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS) and the local partner University of Cape Town (UCT).
The audience travelled from all over the world to the Cape Peninsula. Many African scientists and staff from NGOs as welll as UN organisations took the chance to have a less long journey than the other years. Besides participants from Europe and the Americas, there were representatives from Asian countries (i.e. from Indonesia, India, China, and Taiwan), as well as some scientists from Australia. They all wanted to discuss the most urgent challenges connected to climate change adaptation, as for example agriculture and food security, droughts and water management or climate change and the possible increase of diseases like Malaria.
On the last day, an interactive session brought to the surface the most pressing issues for the future around climate services provision and development. Those issues can be taken as homework for climate services developers. They include the following topics that were discussed in round tables and converge in following themes:
“The role of climate services and its implications for sustainable development” was one of the most important topics. Main aim should be to reflect on how to link climate services provision to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and adaptation planning.
A second theme provided inputs around the matter of quality assurance of climate services. Following topics were chosen for discussion and should bring in the future insight on how to develop the field of quality assurance and how to offer the users trust in the delivered services: On one side, the topic of “Critical perspective around climate services – learning from failures” was discussed, looking at how to incorporate those insights into new developments of climate services; on the other side, the topic of “How to learn from success stories?” was considered. Both topics converge in the topic around “How to ensure quality control of climate services (metrics, standars, etc)” and in the topic “How to evaluate climate services provision and development”.
The special needs of urban areas as knots of human development and main CO2 emitters were another challenge being referred to.
Another theme arouse around the issues of users’ involvement and also regulation of climate services. On the one side, how to involve users was discussed under the topic of “Strategies to increase user representation in climate services conferences and meetings” and the topic of “Co-development of climate services with communities”. The question ”How to support innovation in climate services development and provision” was debated on the topic of “Policies and frameworks to support the increase of innovation” as well as “The use of technology in the provision of climate services”. Particularly the needs for capacity building and development were pointed out.
The sixth theme involves the topic of the “The gender dimension of climate change and climate services” and the topic of “Local knowledge systems”, while a last theme pointed out the need for thinking “out of the box” when developing climate service. This brought to the surface the need for fringe scientific fields that might support a proper implementation of climate services at the end.
In general the audience and the contents of the sessions also carried to light the issues of a) trust and confidence which in many cases is related to long term collaboration between users and providers/purveyors; b) the need for better visualisation of products, which also implies a better understanding of the audience, this meaning taking into account particularities of languages and local disparities; c) the need for transformation and transformational adaptation; d) the challenges of all co-approaches (co-design, co-development, co-production) in opposition to linear approaches of climate services development; e) the increasing need of including local knowledge systems to avoid limitations in the use of climate services; and last but not least, f) the importance of the political will when it comes to real implementation of climate services.