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POLICY BRIEF: Using climate information to achieve long-term development objectives in Zambia

Zambia’s climate is bound to change in the coming decades – as climate change takes hold globally. Even if global greenhouse gas emissions fall drastically, Zambia will be affected by changes in temperatures and rainfall for the next generation. How should policy-makers and investors take these climate risks into account? That’s the subject of a new policy brief from the Future Climate for Africa programme and CDKN.

African governments, civil society, the private sector and individuals are making critical decisions today about investments in their countries’ development. The impacts of climate change will be significant and far-reaching. Climate impacts could affect whether development plans achieve the desired benefits for society.

Decision-makers will have to take climate risks into account and adapt to climate impacts if development goals are to be realised and sustained.

A new policy brief highlights key findings from a pilot case study in Zambia on how climate information can be used to improve humanitarian and development policy. The case study is part of the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) programme, a five-year research programme that aims to advance scientific knowledge about the future of Africa’s climate in the next generation – and how climate science could be better used by decision-makers.

Authors Bettina Koelle, Carina Bachofen, Pablo Suarez, Erin Coughlan, Richard Jones and Wisford Muenda base their findings on a literature review, scientific research, two multi-sector, multi-stakeholder workshops and a high-level meeting with key representatives from government, civil society, the Met Office and the private sector. They conclude:

Key messages

  • At present, there is no evidence of the current use of climate information in decisions relevant to long-term planning and long-lived infrastructure.
  • Despite strong demand from decision-makers for high-resolution climate projections, they tend not to appreciate that such projections come with increased levels of uncertainty. They need better guidance around decision-making under uncertain future conditions.
  • System-based approaches that promote incentives to collaborate and propose long-term solutions can help strengthen relationships between climate service providers and development decision-makers
  • Interactive two-way processes of engagement and dialogue can break down communication barriers between producers and users of science, enabling climate-smart decision-making processes to emerge.
  • Support for open data systems for climate information can enable adaptive decision-making through improved analysis of climate-related opportunities and risks.

FCFA is jointly funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). CDKN is responsible for coordinating the FCFA scoping phase – an 18 month exercise uses six case studies in sub-Saharan Africa to evaluate the needs of science users in the context of the capabilities and limitations of current science.

Read the other FCFA case studies:

More information is available at http://www.futureclimateafrica.org

For more information or for help using the one of our toolkits, please contact cdkn@southsouthnorth.org