Capacity development through the sharing of climate information with diverse user communities

Mantilla Caicedo, Gilma Constanza; Thomson, Cynthia; Sharoff, Jessica; Barnston, Anthony G.; Curtis, Ashley E.

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) is a premier global research and capacity development institution focused on enhancing society’s capability to understand, use, manage and evaluate climate information. Its goal is to strengthen the technical capacity of individuals and organizations in order to increase the demand for climate information and its application. In the early years of IRI, staff trained local meteorologists and decision makers, often in developing countries, on using information products that IRI’s forecast group judged would be of value. However, in the last decade, IRI’s approach to training has evolved into one that is more user-driven. Today, users are brought on board during the development of training curricula to learn what information and methodologies would be most useful for their local needs. This establishes a sense of trust and ownership in the training process. Approaches are tailored to different contexts and communities, and focus is placed on cultivating long-lasting partnerships. The work presented in this article demonstrates the evolution of IRI’s capacity building and development processes. It highlights how the IRI implements capacity development activities, with a particular emphasis on the early engagement of practitioners and end users. Numerous examples are provided of the successes related to knowledge gains and to the concrete applications of climate information that can occur when the design and implementation of activities are preformed in an integrative manner. This approach builds channels for interaction among practitioners, policymakers, scientists and other societal decision making groups. Though it has seen numerous successes, the IRI is continually evaluating its capacity development methods and looking for ways to improve upon them.


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