A typology of climate services: frames in the global arena

14:00 Wednesday 29 May


Room S7


Lugen Marine (Belgium) 1; Zaccai Edwin (Belgium) 1

1 - Université Libre de Bruxelles

In the past years, there has been a growing attention for climate services. Climate services (CS), involving the production, translation, transfer, and use of climate information are expected to support decision-making in the context of climate change. While relatively new, the term is used by many actors, carrying different visions of what it involves, pursues and encompasses.


We present a typology of frames around CS to point how actors (and which ones) define, interpret and shape the concept of CS. We identify four evolving visions carried by different actors and we show how those visions influence the way climate services are being developed. The objective is to better categorize and understand this field in rapid development.


This research is based on an extensive literature review. While restraining our search on the term ‘climate services’, we selected 136 publications (journal articles, reports and book chapters) from four groups of actors: international organizations, researchers, public actors and NGOs. Guiding questions for our analysis are how the knowledge is produced, legitimised and communicated; which type of knowledge it promotes; which resources are available to actors. Other points of attention for each publication were the relationship with users, targeted sectors and type of products developed, disciplinary background of knowledge suppliers.


Four frames of CS are identified: as a market, as a technological innovation, as a tool for decision-making and as climate-related risk management tool. We develop for each frames the visions, main actors and interests that support these interpretations. While somehow evolving in time, those frames also co-exist. Our analysis reveals some dynamism in the way CS are framed and constructed. This contributes to challenge former frames and offer dialogues within the community of CS. Nevertheless, one of our results is that there is still little integration and knowledge about what ‘users’ constitute as a category, as they are often treated as a common entity and rarely interrogated.


Our analysis aims to bring some clarity on this growing field of CS and on the concept of CS itself. It can help CS suppliers to reflect on their products and CS users to understand what can be expected from them. We argue that there are still some steps to take to improve the legitimacy of CS, for example through the development of an ‘ethical’ frame where effects on the ground, beyond their formal objectives, are exposed and discussed.