Perceptions of Climate Risk and Use of Climate Risk Information by Natural Resource Conservation Stakeholders Participating in ADVANCE Projects in Asia and Latin America

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  • 1 Center for Climate Systems Research, The Earth Institute, Columbia University
  • 2 Hunter College, City University of New York
  • 3 Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
  • 4 World Wildlife Fund US
  • 5 NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
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Abstract

Integrating climate risk information into resilience-building activities in the field is important to ensure that adaptation is based on the best available science. Despite this, many challenges exist when developing, communicating, and incorporating climate risk information. There are limited resources on how stakeholders perceive risks, use risk information, and what barriers exist to limit knowledge integration. This paper seeks to define: 1) What do conservation stakeholders consider to be the most significant climate risks they face now and possibly in the future?; 2) What have been the most significant barriers to their using climate risk information?; and 3) What sources and types of knowledge would be most useful for these managers to overcome these barriers? A survey was conducted amongst stakeholders (n=224) associated with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) projects in tropical and subtropical countries. A very high proportion of stakeholders used climate risk information and yet faced integration-related challenges, which included too much uncertainty and not at a relevant scale for planning. The main factors preventing the use of climate risk information in decision-making were unavailability of climate risk information, no or limited financial or human resources available to respond, lack of organizational mandate or support, and no or limited institutional incentives. Comparing perceived current and future risks revealed a decline in concern for some future climate hazards. Survey respondents identified scientific reports, climate scientists and online sources as the most useful information sources of climate risk information, whilst (i) maps and illustrations, (ii) scenarios format and (iii) data tables, graphs and charts were identified as user-friendly formats.

Corresponding author: Manishka De Mel, manishka.demel@columbia.edu

Abstract

Integrating climate risk information into resilience-building activities in the field is important to ensure that adaptation is based on the best available science. Despite this, many challenges exist when developing, communicating, and incorporating climate risk information. There are limited resources on how stakeholders perceive risks, use risk information, and what barriers exist to limit knowledge integration. This paper seeks to define: 1) What do conservation stakeholders consider to be the most significant climate risks they face now and possibly in the future?; 2) What have been the most significant barriers to their using climate risk information?; and 3) What sources and types of knowledge would be most useful for these managers to overcome these barriers? A survey was conducted amongst stakeholders (n=224) associated with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) projects in tropical and subtropical countries. A very high proportion of stakeholders used climate risk information and yet faced integration-related challenges, which included too much uncertainty and not at a relevant scale for planning. The main factors preventing the use of climate risk information in decision-making were unavailability of climate risk information, no or limited financial or human resources available to respond, lack of organizational mandate or support, and no or limited institutional incentives. Comparing perceived current and future risks revealed a decline in concern for some future climate hazards. Survey respondents identified scientific reports, climate scientists and online sources as the most useful information sources of climate risk information, whilst (i) maps and illustrations, (ii) scenarios format and (iii) data tables, graphs and charts were identified as user-friendly formats.

Corresponding author: Manishka De Mel, manishka.demel@columbia.edu
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