Policymakers need the best available science in order to craft effective responses to local, national and regional challenges. At the same time, scientists need feedback from policy makers and the wider user community to develop research priorities and respond to stakeholder needs.
The Africa Climate Conference 2013 will strengthen the two-way dialogue between the policy and research communities as the basis for addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with climate variability and change in Africa.
Some of the potential links between climate science and climate policies that the conferences will explore include:
• Managers responsible for public health, water supplies and food production can improve their decisions with better access to short-term climate forecasts (from days to months and seasons). To achieve this, researchers need to improve their understanding of smaller scale phenomena such as convective rain-bearing systems.
• Farmers, disaster-risk managers and other stakeholders need advance warnings of extreme floods and droughts at least six months ahead. To provide such warnings, researchers need to improve seasonal forecasts by, for example, gaining a better understanding of how the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and other global climate patterns affect Africa.
• Investments in transport and energy infrastructure require climate forecasts of at least a decade. Scientists need to increase their understanding of the drivers of natural decadal variability over Africa and its interaction with global climate change.
• Many adaptation measures are based on the local climate of 50-100 years ahead. Researchers need to downscale projections of the future global climate to regional, national and local levels. They must also observe and model regional influences such as land-use and land-cover changes.
• To better understand future impacts, policymakers need to better understand vulnerability to current climate events. This will require more and improved ground-based observation networks in Africa. Better databases are also needed on crop yields, river flows, health related matters admissions and other socioeconomic variables.
• African institutions are closer to the continent’s end-users of climate information, and so need greater capacity to meet complex challenges.