Societal Applications » Climate & Development

Climate Development

WEATHER describes atmospheric conditions at a particular place in terms of air temperature, pressure, humidity, wind speed, and precipitation.

CLIMATE is often defined as the weather averaged over time (typically, 30 years).

CLIMATE VARIABILITY refers to variations in the mean state of climate on all temporal and spatial scales beyond that of individual weather events. Examples of climate variability include extended droughts, floods, and conditions that result from periodic El Niño and La Niña events.

CLIMATE CHANGE refers to shifts in the mean state of the climate or in its variability, persisting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change may be due to natural changes or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use.


Definitions are based on IPCC Climate Change 2001 and 2007 Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability reports

Climate variability and change impacts economic and human development in the countries that rim the RIMES area of responsibility in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. The absence of mitigation and adaptation measures could result in the failure of development planning, and largely affect the most vulnerable populations. The impact of climate changes on developing countries is much greater than the impact on developed countries. To ensure sustainable development, steps need to be taken to factor in climate impact on development stakeholders and processes. This includes understanding the impact of climate on society and the risks posed, adapting comprehensive coping strategies within development plans, and ensuring that adaptation builds resilience among all affected stakeholders. Doing so would assist countries better manage risks and optimize benefits of climate change and variability.

In most contexts, information products from national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs) have yet to be oriented to the needs of varied users. Interaction between NMHSs and early warning information user agencies are limited to times of severe weather events. To add to this, the public lacks awareness on the potential use of these information products in their livelihood-related decision-making.

In most contexts, information products from national meteorological and hydrological services (NMHSs) have yet to be oriented to the needs of varied users. Interaction between NMHSs and early warning information user agencies are limited to times of severe weather events. To add to this, the public lacks awareness on the potential use of these information products in their livelihood related decision-making.

Climate & Society Interactions

In both urban and rural settings, human beings are affected by climate variability and change. Those populations that depend on the climate for their livelihoods are the most vulnerable to fluctuations. The case is more so for climate hazards, be they rapid onset events like flash floods and blizzards, or slow onset events like long droughts. With knowledge of climate changes and strong preparedness plans, societies can both optimize opportunities, better cope with climate hazards, and reduce the losses incurred by such events.

Climate Proofing

Development programs are vehicles for building human capabilities to improve the quality of life. A changing climate poses new risks that threaten development outcomes. Program development, therefore, needs to consider climate risks and integrate measures to ensure that these risks are reduced to acceptable levels. The process of assessing sensitivity of development outcomes to current and future climate and ensuring that climate risks are reduced and integrated in the planning, design, budgets, and implementation of development programs is referred to as climate proofing.

Climate proffing entails:

  • analysis of the climate in the project area, which includes current climate variability and extremes, observable trends, and climate change scenario
  • analysis of climate sensitivity of each program output/ outcome; and level of risk to the program output/ outcome.
  • identification and prioritization of adaptation opportunities. These measures or adaptation opportunities are then scored for their adaptation value and the enabling environment for taking up such options.
  • provision of recommendations for integration into project design and implementation.

Climate Risk Management (CRM)

Climate risk management is a process that helps assess and manage societal vulnerability associated with existing and future patterns of risk. Risks could stem from both short-term climate variability and long-term climate change. Adaptation strategies are then integrated in to development strategies, policies, plans, and projects. The objective is to build in-country capacity to analyze, prevent and manage risks related to climate variability and change and define climate risk management solutions. The CRM process supports capacity enhancement at national, regional and community levels.

Climate Change Adaptation

Vulnerability to climate change is based on the population’s exposure to climate conditions, sensitivity to those conditions, and the capacity to adapt to the changes. Adaptation strategies aim to reduce vulnerability and enhance community resilience:

  • supporting the development of disaster prevention and response mechanisms; early warning systems, contingency planning and integrated response, to promote effective community adaptation and risk management
  • building projected climate change related trends in to risk and vulnerability assessments, based on current climate variability
  • strengthening existing capacity, among local authorities, civil society and private sector, to ensure effective climate risk management and scale up of adaption
  • integrating adaptation in to longer term national and local level sustainable development planning
  • facilitating access to resources needed for adaptation; both technical and financial