Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Managing risk in a changing climate

Stephen Zebiak at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society: …A growing body of evidence, much of it captured in the 2007-2008 Human Development Report by the United Nations, points to the direct effects of climate on economic and human development, particularly in low-income countries.

….It has been difficult to cast climate information in terms that can inform decisions and policies in key sectors. As a result, little uptake has been achieved and livelihoods and economies remain vulnerable to climate risks.”

Many of the world's leading development institutions -- including the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and major foundations -- recognize that efforts to meet development goals, in particular the Millennium Development Goals, are threatened by climate risk. As a result, they have begun reviewing their programs from the perspective of climate-related risk assessment and risk management. Similarly, national governments and decision makers at the local and regional levels are now asking how they can better manage climate-related risk.

…[C]limate risk management is the process of climate-informed decision-making. It involves the use of strategies that reduce uncertainty through the systematic use of climate information. This work is especially challenging because it involves a complex interplay between physical, natural, and social systems and requires that practitioners engage with good science, good policy, and good practice. At present there are some organizations working to connect these disparate disciplines -- but while their work has provided examples of practical ways to manage climate risk, the demand for useable knowledge and information far outstrips what can be provided….

Woodcut by Ambrosius Holbein for the 1518 edition of Thomas More's Utopia

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