IRI, USAID’s New Training Webcasts for Climate-Resilient Development

IRI, USAID Launch Training Webcasts to Inform Adaptation Planning and Climate-Resilient Development

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have launched a new set of training webcasts geared for development professionals who want to be more fluent in the science that underpins their climate change adaptation projects.

The four new presentations were made publically available on December 4 on IRI’s Training website and at the Third International Conference on Climate Services in Jamaica the same week. IRI climate scientists will be available to answer questions from viewers in an online forum through December 11.

Climate information – from seasonal forecasts to long-term climate change scenarios—is important to inform decision making of development agencies such as  USAID as well as their implementing partners and beneficiary communities, and ultimately to support climate resilient development.

However, the sheer amount and complexity of climate-related information that is available online can be overwhelming for those who aren’t climate specialists. Historical observations, real-time monitoring and climate forecasts can come from many different sources and in many formats. Such data sets can often have significant gaps in coverage or lack the appropriate time scale and geographic resolution needed. Finding information that is reliable and relevant to their work is often extremely challenging.

“The demand for resources to integrate climate information into development programming is there, and these presentations will start to address some of these needs,” says Nora Ferm, a Climate Change Adaptation Specialist in USAID’s Global Climate Change Office. “IRI, as a scientific research institution with a mission to deliver science to decision makers, is a key partner in efforts to build understanding and inform action both inside and outside USAID.”

An IRI scientist and climate expert will give each of the four training presentations:

Walter Baethgen provides an overview and gives context and use-case examples for the material that is covered in the rest of the series.

Andrew Robertson explains general circulation models (GCMs) and how they are used to make climate forecasts and climate projections.

Alessandra Giannini explores the terms and concepts used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to describe certainty and uncertainty in climate-model projections of future change.

Tufa Dinku describes key challenges around the availability of and access to climate data, and shows how satellite data and weather station data have been combined to help resolve this challenge in Africa.

Erica Allis  will wrap up each presentation by drawing linkages between the science concepts and development professionals’ programmatic activities.

“We developed these structured training videos based on exchanges with USAID and other organizations to identify the information and answers that would be most relevant and timely for their staff and other development practitioners,” says Andrew Robertson, who leads IRI’s Climate Program. “We hope these efforts will provide them the tools and grounding to better understand some of the technical and scientific issues behind their work and the development challenges they are working to address.”

Questions answered by IRI experts during the week following the launch will be consolidated and posted as FAQs and, together with the prerecorded videos and supplemental resources, will permanently reside on the website.

These important resources will also be made available to a much broader community through the Climate Services Partnership —a network of thousands of adaptation and development professionals.