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Initiative

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SEI Initiative on Climate Services

This initiative brings SEI expertise to bear in the emerging field of climate services – the production, tailoring, interpretation and transfer of high-quality climate information to support planning and decision-making – with a focus on adaptation and disaster resilience.

Inactive project

2016–2019

The SEI Initiative on Climate Services ended in 2019. You can find a summary of the key results and achievements from the initiative here.

Knowledge and information are crucial for climate action. Climate extremes are expected to become more severe. Temperatures, rainfall, the timing and severity of storm patterns are in flux. These changes affect livelihoods and lives. To be useful, information about these changes needs to be timely, high-quality, relevant and accessible to people, particularly to vulnerable populations, some of them living in the world’s most remote corners.

Meeting these needs is the focus of an emerging field called climate services, which aims to bridge the gap between climate science and policy and practice so that people can make practical decisions about how best to adapt in ways that build resilience to natural and man-made disasters.

Climate services draw on a variety of sources. Scientific research and meteorological and climate models are important, but so are practical experiences and local and indigenous knowledge. SEI’s climate services sees working together with users as an essential component both to guide the production and tailoring of climate information (to meet context-specific needs) and to be able to apply that information.

In fact, the essence of the philosophy that underpins our work can be captured by a single prefix: “co”.

Co-exploration and co-production are our bywords. That is to say, we do things collaboratively, not for users but with them.

This, too, represents a new way of doing science. Our work at this research frontier is intended to break down the so-called “ivory tower” that can isolate scientists, and science itself, from policymakers who are making decisions that cry out for better understanding of state-of-the-art climate knowledge. We aim to co-explore key issues, and to co-produce new, relevant climate knowledge tailored to users’ specific needs. The ultimate goal, is to set the stage for the implementation of science-informed policies that enhance lives and livelihoods.

This is capacity-building work running along a two-way street. That is, this approach builds the knowledge, skills and capacities of users so that they can better understand and interpret climate information; at the same time, this approach builds the skills and capacities of scientists and intermediaries who provide and translate the information so that they can better communicate and collaborate with users.

SEI has a strong track record of producing climate knowledge, building capacity and supporting decision-making on development, mitigation, adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

A map shows the location of Climate Service Initiative case studies, and the participation of various partners (in boxes). The map illustrates projected food insecurity in 2050, with medium missions and without adaptation. Darker oranges indicate greater food insecurity. The small map shows conditions at the present. Source: UK Met Office and the World Food Programme.

The climate services initiative aims to strengthen SEI’s contributions to these fields by developing new approaches for the improved design, use and interpretation of climate services, that we are refining and testing particularly those focused on adaptation and disaster resilience. Our services aim to extend from the local to the national level, and to both developed and developing countries.

A cornerstone of the initiative is the Tandem Framework that explains best practices for the co-design of climate services  involving the input of scientists, intermediaries, and potential users of these services.

The Tandem offers step-by-step guidance to work together to improve the process and, ultimately, enhance the design of climate services. SEI is rigorously testing and refining the Tandem framework to ensure its applicability in a wide range of settings. The scope of these efforts is conceptually broad, covering a range of:

  • issues, including water, energy, coffee production, ecosystems, and infrastructure
  • scales, encompassing regional and national, urban and rural plans
  • geographies, incorporating work underway in Southeast Asia, Northern Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Northern Europe
  • and development contexts, to span low-, medium- and high-income countries.

The results will be published in peer-reviewed literature and learning will be shared through an interactive version of the Tandem framework as online guidance. Findings will also support a community of practice on weADAPT.

 

This graphic illustrates the interactive version of the online Climate in Tandem guidance. Image: SEI.

Broadly, the initiative focuses on three objectives:

  1. improving understanding of the context of decision making, including climate- and time-sensitive development challenges, institutional processes, stakeholder needs and engagement, and the added value that climate services can provide for managing climate and disaster-related risks
  2. developing innovative methods and creating new partnerships for the improved design, use and interpretation of climate services
  3. influencing adaptation policy and planning processes through improved provision of climate services to advance the United Nations Agenda 2030 Goals.

The initiative core team includes a range of disciplines (social geography, anthropology, sociology, environmental science, political science, behavioural science, climate science, computer science and communications), skill sets, and experience building and designing decision support tools and knowledge platforms. Our Climate Services Initiative capitalises on the expertise of colleagues working in offices in Stockholm, Bangkok, Bogotá, Nairobi, and Oxford, and in the field. Our work also taps the experience and expertise of our extensive network of partners, among them, the global Climate Knowledge Brokers Group, in which SEI researchers are active participants.

We engage with the broader research, policy and practice communities, by producing publications for academic and non-academic audiences, and by participating in a wide range of global conferences and specialist events that keep us abreast of the most current trends in climate adaptation research.

Updates

Publications

People

Sukaina Bharwani

Senior Research Fellow and weADAPT Director

SEI Oxford

Åsa Gerger Swartling
Åsa Gerger Swartling

Head of Knowledge Management, Senior Research Fellow

Global Operations

SEI Headquarters

Karin André
Karin André

Team Leader: Cities, Communities and Consumption; Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Profile picture of Julia Barrott
Julia Barrott

Impact and Learning Officer

Global Operations

SEI Oxford

Natalia Biskupska

Programme Manager

SEI Asia

Karen Brandon
Karen Brandon

Senior Communications Officer and Editor

Communications

SEI Oxford

Ruth Butterfield
Ruth Butterfield

Centre Director and Senior Research Fellow

SEI Oxford

Laura Forni

Acting Water Program Director

SEI US

Philip Osano
Philip Osano

Centre Director

SEI Africa

David Purkey

Centre Director

SEI Latin America

Albert Salamanca
Albert Salamanca

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Asia

Tania Santos

Research Fellow

SEI Latin America

Profile picture of Takeshi Takama
Takeshi Takama

SEI Affiliated Researcher

SEI Asia

Profile picture of Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Oxford

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