Re-balancing climate services to inform climate-resilient planning – A conceptual framework and illustrations from sub-Saharan Africa

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ABSTRACT

Making climate-resilient planning and adaptation decisions is, in part, contingent on the use of climate information. Growing attention has been paid to the “usability gap” and the need to make information both useful and useable to decision-makers. Less attention has, however, been paid to the factors that determine whether, once created, useful and useable information is then actually used. In this Perspectives piece, we outline a framework that puts together the pieces necessary to close the “usability gap” – highlighting not only what is required to make information useful and useable, but also what is required to ensure that useful and useable information is actually used. Creating useful information is subject to understanding and being able to deliver metrics that address identified needs in a range of decision-making contexts. Creating useable information requires legitimate and credible information that is visualised and communicated in ways that are accessible and understandable.

The framework highlights traditionally under-recognized enablers necessary to promote effective use of the growing availability of useful and useable climate information in decision-making; supportive institutions, appropriate policy frameworks, capacity of individuals and agency to make decisions. Whilst this is not enough in itself to effect information use, we argue that greater focus on these enablers can re-balance the activities promoted through climate services and increase the likelihood of successful use. We illustrate the framework with case examples of co-producing climate information for the tea and water sectors in sub-Saharan Africa.