Education and communication should be seen as prerequisites for achieving sustainable development and as essential tools for good governance, informed decision-making and the promotion of democracy. They strengthen the capacity of individuals, groups, communities, organizations and countries to make judgements and choices in favour of sustainable development.13
Education, communication and capacity-building are important to tackle the challenge of climate change. They should aim at increasing awareness and improving understanding of the mechanisms that drive climate change as well as the potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.
The lack of institutional capacity should not be a reason for not taking action. All countries need to take the initiative vis-à-vis building their own capacities to handle the challenges of climate change.
Reinforcing or creating capacity will provide a better understanding of vulnerability and needs, and will help identify adaptation measures and initiatives to reduce vulnerability and define sustainable development policies.
At the same time, the strengthening and/or creating of capacity at the national and regional levels will assist participating countries in international processes, make it easier to coordinate actions taken in response to climate change issues as well as integrating these issues into national and regional policies. Such a capacity-strengthening process will contribute to the negotiation of bilateral or multilateral support in the fields of disaster management, early-warning systems and climate change.
The issue of climate change should be addressed in formal and non-formal education as well as through communication, including awareness-raising. Governments should play a proactive role in promoting and facilitating education and communication, in partnership with stakeholders.
Capacity-building should be targeted at all the stakeholders that participate in the governance process, including members of joint bodies, to ensure that everyone has the same level of understanding.
Education, capacity-building and communication should be an integral part of any adaptation strategy and should take place at all phases of the adaptation chain. Existing institutional gaps should be identified through in-depth gap analysis that includes all steps of adaptation. A consistent programme to address such gaps should be developed as part of the national development strategy.
In addition, States should assist each other in capacity-building, in particular, States which are more advanced in terms of adaptation should assist the less advanced ones.
Education programmes and communication strategies should be designed and implemented to meet the need of target groups, taking into consideration such aspects as age, social roles and level of literacy. This apply as to the content so to the proposed framework for implementation. Persons at risk should be considered as a special target group. This can help to bring to people’s attention that they should take adaptation and mitigation into account in their own life- decisions, e.g. whether to build in flood-prone areas and or to use climate-proof construction methods.
This chapter aims to clarify the additional requirements that climate change adds to information and monitoring needs for water policies, strategies, implementation and operation. This information is required mainly to support the modelling of scenarios to be able to assess vulnerability hot spots. Reference is made here to the UNECE Strategies on Monitoring and Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters14, which elaborate general approaches to information and monitoring needs.
IV.1Definition of information needs
Information about climate change impacts is needed to help decide on both the urgency and the desirability of adaptive measures. As policymakers and managers working in health and water sectors should be able to understand and interpret the information, information needs should be identified by the policymakers and managers together with relevant experts.
Most frequently, water-resources information has been collected for a specific purpose, such as the design of a hydroelectricity scheme. The need for integrated water resources management that supports the understanding of interactions among different projects and users places a greater burden on the suppliers of information; the information needs to be relevant for and understandable to the various stakeholders in the different water-related sectors (e.g. navigation, hydropower, tourism). Thus a variety of information is needed simultaneously, and has to be presented in different forms for different users.
Assessment agencies should therefore understand the needs of all their users, and not just those with whom they have traditionally dealt. For this reason, all users should be involved in the process of defining the information needs. Even more demanding is the need to look ahead to the possible needs of future data users and to commence collecting the information before an actual demand occurs.
The process of specifying information needs should be based on an analysis of the water management issues related to climate change. Needs should be defined for:
Uses (e.g. drinking water, irrigation, recreation) and functions (maintenance of aquatic life) of the water resources that put requirements on the quality and availability of water;
Measures taken to address the impacts or improve the use or functioning of the water resources, including environmental aspects.
The information needs should be clearly determined for the different target groups (policymakers, sectors, operators), dividing the information into the relevant levels of time (strategic, tactical and operational), space (river basin, local and national levels), and purpose (early-warning, recovery, long-term planning).
Translation must be enabled between climate models and scenarios, and the hydrological models and scenarios must ensure that the information produced is relevant for water management. Close cooperation between the climate and the water communities is therefore imperative.
Regional Climate Outlook Forums
Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOF) bring together climate scientists, policymakers and the general-user community to define information needs and develop warnings of potential climate impacts on various socio-economic sectors. The themes for RCOF are chosen depending on the dominant regional climate needs of the users.
Built into the RCOF process is a regional and national networking of climate service providers and user-sector representatives. Countries participating in RCOF recognize the potential of climate prediction and seasonal forecasting as a development tool to help populations and decision makers face the challenges posed by climatic variability and change. One important aspect of the forums is that of bringing together experts in various fields, local meteorologists and end-users of forecasts in an environment that encourages interaction and learning.