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Fit for purpose? Transforming National Meteorological and Hydrological Services into National Climate Service Centers

Mahon, Roché, Greene, Christina, Cox, Shelly-Ann, Guido, Zack, Gerlak, Andrea K., Petrie, Jodi-Ann, Trotman, Adrian, Liverman, Diana, Van Meerbeeck, Cédric J., Scott, Wazita, Farrell, David
Climate services 2019 v.13 pp. 14-23
climate, hydrology, infrastructure, politics, risk, stakeholders, Caribbean
Climate services are becoming an important strategy for delivering climate information to users around the world. In many countries, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) are charged with providing climate services to diverse audiences. Climate services are important to foster adaptation to climate risks and in reducing vulnerability in developing world contexts. However, the production and delivery of user-oriented climate services place new burdens on NMHSs and require new skillsets, partnerships, and infrastructure. In this paper, we assess the capabilities of 22 NMHSs in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to understand whether and how NMHSs are fit for the purpose of providing climate services. Our assessment is framed around the five core pillars of the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Framework for Climate Services. We find that the NMHSs face key capacity gaps in the technical production, translation, transfer, and facilitation of the use of climate information. Some of these gaps have historical roots and relate to the overarching legal, political, and institutional settings in which NMHSs were established and currently operate. Others relate to an increased emphasis on users in ways that contrast with traditional NMHSs’ engagement with stakeholders. These results suggest that investments that support the co-production of climate information while also addressing prevailing legal, political, and institutional disconnects and human resource constraints can strengthen the provision of climate services in Caribbean SIDS.