Climate Change and Variability Risk Reduction (IP-CVR)
The world is at a unique moment in time when at least three major trends are converging to dramatically increase disaster risk (from the global to the local level) and alter the structure and scope of disaster management in the future: climate change, urbanization, and globalization.
It is now undeniable that the global climate is changing as a result of greenhouse gas emissions and that these climatic changes, and resulting variability, are dramatically influencing both the extent and intensity of many natural disasters. Simultaneously the rapid pace of urbanization (and associated population increase), much of which is occurring in high risk coastal areas, is placing ever increasing numbers of individuals, economic resources and infrastructure at risk. And finally, globalization is greatly extending disaster impacts beyond immediate localities through multiply-linked economies, food production and supply chains, and transportation and communication networks.
Historical disasters have shown that a single catastrophic event can undermine decades of growth in and around impacted regions; it is virtually certain that the impact of disasters, resulting from and/or made worse by climate change, will have a similar, if not larger, impact on dramatically larger geographic areas. Unless actions are taken to more clearly define and understand the risks of climate change and variability, and explore solutions at an applied level, the world can expect unprecedented increase risk to human lives and conditions, as well as to economic development and overall international, regional and national security Without better understanding, mitigation, and adaptation, these shifting risks are certain to threaten the very fabric of global harmony by causing social instability (migration, poverty), environmental degradation, food availability, economic stability and energy supply.
The above linkages between climate change impacts, disaster risk management, security and sustainable development can be broadly inferred and articulated. However, the lack of detailed information and knowledge of the nature, timing and distribution of climate variability induced (or intensified) risks are poorly defined and constantly changing. Disaster managers, decision-makers (civilian and military) and communities lack the knowledge, information and “tools” needed for effective decision making, planning and humanitarian response to the above evolving risks. Addressing these issues is arguably the single largest challenge facing today’s leaders around the globe.
Meeting the Challenge:
Through its ongoing risk reduction program of activities, Pacific Disaster Center has been exploring means to address several aspects of the challenges presented above. However it is well recognized that meeting the diversity of challenges requires a much broader inclusive, integrated and multi-faceted approach than that of a single organization. Subsequently, with the help of its partners, PDC gathered a working group of international experts in August 2008 to examine venues for forging strong partnership for moving ahead.
As a result, the expert group proposed establishing a multi-faceted program on Climate Change and Variability Risk Reduction (CVR) in a uniquely inclusive and innovative way. It was recommended that the CVR program would consist of a collaborative and inclusive network of public organizations, academics, as well as the private sector and individuals that are willing to apply their collective capabilities, knowledge, experience and resources to reduce risks associated with and meet the challenges presented by climate change and variability. Through the synergy of the collaborative network both the scope and the diversity of climate induced risks can be more effectively addressed while the network will facilitate achieving integrated results which would be greater than the sum of individual parts. Under this model, all participants, including Pacific Disaster Center, can optimize resources and development in their specific area of interest and expertise while contributing to the broader program by sharing results and resources with other members. This approach will result in an open, complementary, and multi-disciplinary exchange of information and an augmented capacity that have the potential for meeting the immense challenges regarding the subject matter.
To make this a reality, PDC started collaborating with Nobel prize laureate, Dr. Nguyen Huu Ninh of the Center for Environment Research, Education and Development (CERED) to help define, and in collaboration with the international community, facilitate establishment of the overall International Program on Climate Change and Variability Risk Reduction (IP-CVR).
International Program on Climate Change and Variability Risk Reduction (IP-CVR)
To foster the above activity, we propose to establish the IP-CVR as an integrated three-component program consisting of:
- International Advisory Panel (IAP) on Climate Change and Variability Risk” (Appendix 1- Vision Statement) composed of internationally renowned experts in disaster management, climate change and variability, risk assessment, social vulnerability, and economic planning and development. The IAP will serve as an “International Resource” to (a) provide an ongoing analysis of the applicability, utility and methodology of “transitioning” climate change and variability programs into more effective disaster management, (2) outline a framework of activities and specific projects which could be taken to fill the above defined gaps and (3) provide guidance and counsel in the development, funding and conduct of applied science programs of climate change and vulnerability risk assessment.
- Expert Network on Climate Change and Variability Risk Reduction composed of individuals, organizations and representatives of the private sector who have both a common interest and desire to move the agenda of climate variability risk reduction forward through cooperation, joint programs and knowledge interchange. It is anticipated that many of the members of the Expert Network may also be participants of present and future collaborative programs by the participating members and their organizations.
- Collaboration on Climate Variability which would be a dedicated, IT-enabled, space for exchange of information, stimulating collaboration, multidisciplinary research, knowledge transfer and the development of cooperative programs (Appendix 3 – Collaboration on Climate Variability). Those participating would include individuals, organizations, or representative of the private sector that have a specific interest in advancing and sharing the science and knowledge of climate variability risks and their assessment.
From Idea to Reality
As part of its CVR program, PDC will provide the initial resources and support for the establishment of the components above. These include supporting meetings and workshops, coordinating and seeking sponsorships for symposiums, providing resources for the establishment of a self-governing Collaboration on Climate Variability, and similar related activities.
The primary outcome of the proposed CVR will be the strengthening and expansion of the ongoing climate change and variability risk reduction programs for transitioning existing knowledge on global climate change and variability into a framework of applied risk management policy, research and application. This will occur through the previously defined activities of the Advisory Panel, Expert Network and Collaboration on Climate Variability activities.
In the longer term, joint activities of the CVR will enhance;
- Assessment of climate change and variability risks as they apply at regional to local levels
- Decision support tools for effective monitoring and interpretation of the above risks and the integration of this information and knowledge into the decision making process.
- Multi-purpose and scalable effective risk management programs
- Indicators or techniques used to assess climate change and vulnerability risk and associated impacts and vulnerabilities.
- Regional to local climate change and vulnerability modeling for specific to multiple end uses.
- Development of applied analytical framework that links vulnerability-impacts-resilience –risk reduction across a range of issues e.g., urban risk, social risk and broader security risk issues (environment, food, political stability, poverty alleviation).
Perhaps most importantly the overall program is expected to contribute significantly the creation of new programs and projects, along with funding, for the broader community of in the development of applied science in Climate Change and Vulnerability Risk Assessment and in disaster management internationally.
A global partnership and environment in which disaster resilience and adaptation to climate change and variability are continually enhanced and reinforced through collaborative and applied science, information technology and knowledge sharing in support of more effective disaster risk reduction policy, planning and development at the global to local levels.
PDC Collaboration on Climate Variability
What is the Collaboration on Climate Variability?
A dedicated, IT-enabled, space for stimulating collaboration, multidisciplinary research and the development of cooperative programs.
What is it’s Focus
The Collaboration on Climate Variability (CCV) has as its principle focus the sharing of global to local level information, specific to climate variability risks and their assessment, for use by decision makers at all levels and the disaster management community specifically. Secondary, but equally important will be the use of the CCV for identifying the critical areas of needed basic and applied research and facilitating program development by, and amongst, it’s contributing members the research in the identified areas.
How will it function?
The CCV will be an internet based system specifically designed to provide peer to peer interaction, through information, knowledge and “tool” sharing, to facilitate basic and applied climate variability risk assessment. Most importantly the CCV will provide a platform for the incorporation of the inputs of large, diverse and geographically dispersed multi-disciplinary community e.g. physical scientists, sociologists, demographers, economists, environmentalists, planners, etc. into analytical and decision making activities. Specifically the CCV will serve as an enabling platform to (a) define and raise issues related to climate variability risks and their assessment, specify, analyze and discuss impacts and differing options; and converge on collective decisions for use by decision makers.
The CCV is intended to also serve as a basis for (a) the discussion of, and for providing contributions to, ongoing research in climate variability risks and their assessment; (b) for facilitating cooperation within, or expansion of, ongoing programs; and most importantly (c) for the definition of, and funding for, new collaborative programs by the participants in the CCV.
What will be the Structure of the CCV
It is intended that the CCV will be a “Collaboration on Climate Variability of the Willing” with those participating being individuals, ongoing programs, agencies and civil society components that have a specific interest in advancing the science and knowledge of climate variability risks and their assessment for the purposes of disaster risk reduction and the creation of disaster resilient communities. As such the initial participants will largely be comprised of those individuals, their groups (and those that they may recommend), that attended the September, 2008 PDC-EWC Expert Workshop on “Climate Change and Variability: Shifting Risks” and the Shifting Risks 2009 workshop.
The Next Step
The PDC will initially serve as the “Host” for the Collaboration on Climate Variability and as such will, with the advice and counsel of the above, will establish and manage the proposed “on-line” Collaboration on Climate Variability.