Extreme climate events can undermine agricultural and rural development
progress. Even in years when extreme events do not occur, the
uncertainty that results from climate-related risk is an impediment to
sustainable intensification of agriculture and adoption of climate-smart
agricultural production practices. Systems that provide early warning of
climate extremes can reduce the adverse impacts of such events – if they
are embedded in effective communication and linked to decision-making
processes. However, there is general consensus that early warning
systems are not meeting their current potential to provide
decision-makers with timely information in a format that enables action.
Recent failures to respond effectively to slow-onset extreme climate
events – particularly drought – have generally been attributed to
failures in decision-making rather than failures in early warning.
Therefore any investment in developing or improving early warning
systems should be coupled with investment in improving communication and
decision-making processes to maximize the benefit of early warning. In
order to increase response, early warning systems must also tailor
information for a broader set of actors ranging from global to community
level. Many institutions create early warning systems for their own
operational purposes or share warnings broadly without regular feedback
from stakeholders. Making appropriate early warning information
available to decision-makers at a more local level can allow earlier,
better targeted mitigation action that may reduce long-term impacts of
climate shocks on livelihoods, and reduce the need for emergency
assistance later. Such an approach would require increased capacity at
local levels and regular feedback to assure that the information
provided is keeping pace with local dynamics.
Submission to UNFCCC SBSTA 42 on issues related to agriculture in
response to SBSTA decision FCC/SBSTA/2014/L.14.
This submission was prepared by Kevin Coffey (CCAFS, Cali, Colombia/IRI,
Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, USA); Menghestab Haile
(World Food Programme, Cairo, Egypt); Mea Halperin (IRI, Earth
Institute, Columbia University, New York, USA); George Wamukoya (COMESA,
Nairobi, Kenya); James Hansen (CCAFS, Cali, Colombia/IRI, Earth
Institute, Columbia University, New York, USA); James Kinyangi (CCAFS,
Cali, Colombia/ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya); and Kindie Tesfaye Fantaye
(CIMMYT-International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Addis Ababa,
CIAT-CCAFS. Expanding the Contribution of Early Warning to Climate-Resilient Agricultural Development in Africa. CIAT, Cali, Colombia (2015) 13 pp.