Meaghan Daly (United States of America) 1,2; Suraje Dessai (United Kingdom) 3
1 - University of New England; 2 - Maine; 3 - University of Leeds
Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) represent some of the earliest efforts to engage users within the production of seasonal climate forecasts. Over the last 20 years, RCOFs have evolved into a vital platform for interaction between users and producers of climate information as part of the ‘User Interface’ under the Global Framework for Climate Services. To date, there has been little systematic examination of how user engagement and, ultimately, co-production of climate services is understood and implemented within RCOFs.This research examines the diversity of institutional arrangements, approaches, and strategies to support user engagement and co-production of climate services through a comparative case study of three RCOFs.
In this research, we employed a mixed methods case study research design to examine user engagement and co-production of seasonal climate information within RCOFs in South Asia, Southern African, and the Mediterranean region. This included quantitative surveys and semi-structured interviews with participants in the RCOFs (both ‘users’ and ‘producers’). We also conducted ethnographic observation and non-structured interviews during three RCOF events in 2017.
We find that there is a large amount of institutional diversity across the three RCOFs, along with widely varying approaches to the production of seasonal climate information. Importantly, this has implications for whether and how users are engaged, including which stakeholders are included and what their role is. Varied institutional arrangements and forecasting approaches reflect the historical geopolitical relations and scientific capacities within and between regions, as well as the nature and scale of drivers of seasonal climate in each location. While there are ongoing efforts to include users in RCOFs, we find that the scope of engagement has remained constrained due to:
- fundamental limitations of current climate science to meet the demands of users,
- inconsistent financial support for user involvement and capacity building, and
- a lack of shared understandings about what the role of users should be within RCOF processes.
We conclude that there is a need for further attention to the institutional, historical, and geopolitical contexts of the RCOFs from region to region to develop tailored approaches to user engagement, rather than uniform or standard approaches. Furthermore, co-production of regional-scale climate information may not be desirable, or even possible, in some RCOFs where there are mismatches between the scale at which information is produced and the scale at which decision-making and action in the region is taken.