Planning for future climate change crises workshop

March 13, 2009

HFP recently hosted a successful “Planning for Future Climate Change Crises” event, bringing together leading UK scientists, policy makers, and aid organisations.

These are particularly relevant given the recent posts on climate change severity and the importance of policy dialogue.  Please feel free to download and distribute.  PDF’s and PPT’s from this event can be found here:

Key excerpts:

  • We should do what military strategists and the engineering and insurance communities have done for years – estimate an acceptable level of risk and plan accordingly.”
  • Remove uncertainty by using worst-case scenarios. If the worst doesn’t occur then that’s good; if it does, then we’re prepared = win win!”  – Mike Edwards, CAFOD
  • “It is important to consider how climate forecasts relate to aid organisation’s planning time scales.  Do 20 year forecasts matter if your planning cycle is on a 3 year window?”  – Dr. Andy Morse, University of Liverpool
  • We need aid organisations to tell us what kind of forecasts they need if we are to be able to provide it to them.”  – Dr. Richard Jones, The Met Office
  • “90% of climate change adaptation strategies can be implemented without the need for climate forecasts.  These are low regret, easy win options that benefit people now.” – Dr. Ron Wilby,  Loughborough University

Climate science and humanitarian planning

February 5, 2009

HFP recently hosted a seminar in London on the interface between climate science and humanitarian planning.  Megan Rowling posted an excellent piece on the seminar on AlterNet, which can be found here.

The seminar identified several key barriers to better communication between climate scientists and humanitarian strategists.  One problem is time frames – most climate models predict changes in the 20, 50, or 100 year time frame – well beyond the planning horizon of most humanitarian organisations.  A second barrier had to do with geographic scale; most models are unable to produce decision-relevant forecasts for small enough geographic areas to be of value to humanitarian groups.  For their part, climate scientists argued that they didn’t get the kind of feedback they needed from humanitarian aid groups to be able to provide scientific output they could use.

The seminar concluded with several recommendations, as highlighted by Rowling in her AlterNet piece.  These include:


  • Taking climate scientists into the field with humanitarian staff to introduce them to realities on the ground
  • Building a web bank where aid agencies can find reliable climate data
  • Creating a discussion forum so scientists can better understand aid agencies’ information needs, including time scales and the most urgent geographical gaps
  • Using local and indigenous knowledge to build up records of climate patterns and collaborating with communities on gathering weather data
  • Finding low-tech ways to pass on climate information to local communities in a form they can understand and use
  • Applying climate science to verify local experiences of climate change and establish underlying trends
  • Compiling case studies to boost practical knowledge about the impacts of climate change and vulnerability to climate risk
  • Using existing institutions, such as farmer field schools and local media, to raise awareness and stimulate dialogue about climate change at community level
  • Promoting national and regional initiatives on climate change, such as the Climate Outlook Forum for the Horn of Africa

    HFP will be synthesizing and summarising the seminar in more detail for key stakeholders in the near future.  Drop us a line if you’re interested in receiving these summaries.

    HFP Stakeholders’ Forum a huge success

    December 18, 2008

    The Humanitarian Futures Programme [HFP] held its second Stakeholders Forum from 13-14 November 2008 in London, with great success.

    Over the 1 ½ day event, two of HFP’s four major themes were considered – collaboration and innovation – in order to review the relevance of HFP’s approaches to these two themes to the needs of the humanitarian sector and to recommend ways that HFP’s approaches to these and related themes could be enhanced. HFP’s two other main themes are organisational anticipation and adaptation. Annex I and II provide the Stakeholders Forum Programme and Participants List, respectively, while Annex III provides thematic notes on collaboration and innovation.

    The Stakeholders’ Forum was privileged to have as speakers in order of presentation Professor Sir David King [Director of Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment], Dr. Eric Rasmussen [President, InSTEDD], Mr. Ben Ramalingam [Head of Research and Development, ALNAP], Dr. Babar Kabir [Director, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, BRAC], Ms Stacey White [Senior Research Associate, HFP], Dr. Jon A. Frederickson [Director of Innovation Expansion, InnoCentive], Dr. Jemilah Mahmood [President, Mercy Malaysia].

    The sessions were ably chaired by Professor Mervyn Frost [King’s College, London]. Mr. Ed von Schenkenberg [Coordinator, International Council of Voluntary Agencies], Dr. Neil Macdonald [Godwana Development Associates], Mr. Michael Jones [UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Tajikistan], Ms Margareta Wahlstrom [Director, UN International Strategy for Natural Disaster Reduction] and Mr. James Darcy [Director, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute].

    More details and a summary will be posted here soon.