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Attention Peacekeepers: Climate Data Important for Fragile States

Nigerian navy Cmdr. Godffrey Kwetishe fills a weather balloon with helium (U.S. Navy photo by John Stratton)

Nigerian navy Cmdr. Godffrey Kwetishe fills a weather balloon with helium (U.S. Navy photo by John Stratton)

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has issued a new report, Accessing and Using Climate Data and Information in Fragile, Data-Poor States. In the report, the authors Simon Mason, Andrew Kruczkiewicz, Pietro Ceccato and Alec Crawford do a fantastic job of bringing to light an overlooked aspect of conflict-ridden and fragile states: accessing and using climate data. The report lists numerous examples, including how weather forecasting was banned by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and how weather information gathering capabilities in Rwanda diminished after the genocide. The report also includes recommended actions for peace-building practitioners to avoid such gaps in the future. Worth a read. A summery of the report as provided by IISD is copied below. Schuyler Null with the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program also wrote a great article and overview of this report.

From IISD:

The vulnerability of populations in fragile states to weather and climate variability is typically much higher than in other countries. These countries, and their populations, face a higher exposure to climate change as a result of their geography. They are also over-reliant on climate-dependent sectors of the economy, particularly rain-fed agriculture, and their histories of violence, poverty and weak governance serve to undermine resilience and capacities to respond to climate risks. As such, climate change poses a significant challenge to the transition of fragile states toward peace and stability. In order to address and reduce the risk that climate change and variability may pose to a fragile state’s population and to peacebuilding progress, policy- makers and peacebuilding practitioners must be able to access, understand and use information on the local, national and global climate. However, it is within these fragile contexts that climate information is often the weakest, if it exists at all.

This report provides peacebuilding practitioners with guidance for accessing and using climate data and information in fragile contexts. It describes some of the challenges to generating, accessing and understanding climate information in contexts of state fragility. It introduces the types of climate information relevant to national and international peacebuilding practitioners operating in fragile contexts and provides a review of relevant and accessible climate data. The report addresses how climate information can be effectively used in a peacebuilding context, and highlights some of the immediate priorities and sequencing needs for fragile states attempting to rebuild their national capacities to generate climate information.

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