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Climate data project seeks to prepare poorer nations
  • Climate data project seeks to prepare poorer nations

Copyright: Nick Cobbing/Panos

Speed read

  • The partnership will provide climate models, mapping tools and computing power

  • It will initially target one African, Asian and Latin American nation

  • The project includes the US and UK governments, firms and development banks

A global initiative to help developing nations prepare for the impacts of climate change will be piloted in Bangladesh, Colombia and Ethiopia, following its launch in the United States last week.

The Climate Services for Resilient Development partnership has more than US$34 million worth of funding and goods to use to pool scientific data and technologies from agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom, aid organisations and businesses.

“No country can possibly address this threat alone, it will require every country around the world doing what it can to contribute to the solution.”

John Kerry, US secretary of state

Together, these partners plan to provide climate models and data, weather forecasting services, mapping tools, data storage, computing power and training to better prepare poorer nations for climate change, the White House announced on 9 June.

The partnership was first proposed by US president Barack Obama during the UN Climate Summit in New York in September 2014.

“No country can possibly address this threat alone,” said US secretary of state John Kerry in a statement for the launch. “It will require every country around the world doing what it can to contribute to the solution.”

Besides government agencies, the partnership includes Google, geographical information mapping company Esri, the American Red Cross and several international development banks.

NASA, the US space agency, has released a set of climate modelling data that gives climate projections for developing countries, including the three nations in the pilot. The UK Met Office, meanwhile, says it will provide and develop weather and climate data and services to help countries prepare for extreme weather events and improve their monitoring.

All these tools will give many countries far more locally detailed data and stronger analytical capabilities than they had before, says Juan-Carlos Altamirano, an economist for US think-tank the World Resources Institute. “I think it’s going to create strong links between science and development,” he tells SciDev.Net.

But Altamirano adds that there remain some details to be filled in about how exactly these links will be established, and how the project’s data tools will be employed.

The partnership will initially focus on East Africa, South Asia and the South American Andes, according to USAID (the US Agency for International Development), one of the partners. Within these regions, Bangladesh, Colombia and Ethiopia — some of the world’s more climate-vulnerable nations according to one research group’s measure — were selected as pilot countries.
After 2016, the partnership plans to expand to at least three other regions: Africa’s semiarid Sahel zone, South-East Asia and the Caribbean.

The partnership represents another push by world leaders to improve developing countries’ climate preparedness ahead of the COP 21 UN climate talks in Paris in December.

Watch the video below of the US Institute for Peace event where the climate resilience initiative was launched:

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