Applying Climate Information to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
Information is a cross-cutter. It can be applied to almost everything. And improving climate information and early warning systems across Africa has the potential to significantly improve lives, build resiliency and support us in our global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
For over 30 years, the international development community has made substantial investments in climate information systems for Africa, nevertheless, according to the World Bank, “most hydromet services are unable to meet the needs for weather and climate information.” This lack of quality information is costing African nations dearly. With effectively structured public-private partnerships, new low-cost technology advances such as Automatic Weather Stations, cloud computing and automated emergency warning systems, strengthened institutions, increased regional cooperation and continued capacity building, sustainable climate and weather information solutions are a realistic and attainable goal. Reaching this target could have a significant impact on our ability to protect human life, build resiliency in the face of a changing climate, and foster long-term prosperity.
Providing vulnerable farmers and communities with improved weather and climate information has the potential to increase farm production, build market stealth and lower risk. With better information on extreme weather events, improved crop forecasts and more actionable information on what to do when bad weather hits, farmers can protect property and human lives, access risk-management mechanisms like index-based insurance, and create long-term plans for a future that will be highly dependent on rainfall patterns, droughts, floods and other natural disasters. Decision makers can use this valuable information to inform National Adaptation Plans, strengthen national production, lower migration caused by climate change, and build climate-smart infrastructure designed to withstand the potential dangers a changing climate.
So how can African leaders apply climate information and early warning systems to the SDGs? It’s about embracing innovation, learning from the past and supporting enabling actions that build to a more sustainable future for investments in the climate services sector.