Helicopter dumping water on forest fire

A helicopter dumping water on a forest fire. Sweden suffered an unprecedented rash of forest fires during the unusually hot and dry summer of 2018. Photo: Johner Images / Getty Images.

As our understanding of the impacts of climate change increases, more and more attention is being paid to climate adaptation. This has resulted in numerous projects aiming to help decision-makers plan for adaptation in sectors like urban planning, forestry, energy and water management, and disaster preparation. However, many of these projects have resulted in little significant implementation.

One of the factors blamed for this is the failure of climate service producers – researchers and others providing information to support climate-smart decision-making – to deliver information of the type and quality the relevant decision-makers need to take action. Several studies have tried to identify the shortcomings in climate services – for example, poor engagement with decision-makers and stakeholders, a mismatch between information provided and the users’ needs, poor communication of findings.

Rather than assume that these shortcomings are due to incompetence on the part of the climate service producers, this article instead looks at what constraints the producers themselves face that limit their ability to deliver actionable information.

Based on interviews and participant observation in Sweden, the authors find that climate service producers face a range of funding, institutional and professional constraints. They also identify some of the ways climate service producers have managed to overcome these constraints in practice. Finally, they note that even when climate service producers do deliver actionable information, a range of other factors can prevent it being translated into action.