Guest Article #104

RIMES' Commitment to Climate Change Adaptation

Regional and global assessments of climate change have revealed a trend of higher frequency of extreme climate and weather events. Since 2000, about 2.7 billion people in Asia and East Africa alone have been exposed to climatological and hydro-meteorological hazards (EMDAT).

The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES), aiming at communities that are forearmed, forewarned and resilient to climate-related hazards, works on capacity building of: National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in providing locally relevant prediction and forecast products; institutional users in translating information from these products into potential impacts and impact management options; and of end users in the application of these options.

RIMES, an international and intergovernmental institution owned and managed by its member States, evolved from the efforts of countries in Africa and Asia, in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, to establish a regional early warning system within a multi-hazard framework for the generation, communication, and application of early warning information and to build capacity of its member States.

In building climate resilience, RIMES works at three different levels: capacity building of NMHSs in the generation of downscaled climate projections, seasonal outlooks, and long-lead weather forecasts; training of institutions in climate-sensitive sectors in analyzing likely impacts, for use in developing adaptation and management options; and guiding end users, such as farmers and local water resource and disaster managers in implementing these options within a risk management framework to deal with the uncertainty that is inherent in climate projections and weather forecasts.

For example, in 2011 in Maldives, RIMES assisted the Maldives Meteorological Services in generating downscaled climate and sea level projections for use in national and local level planning, and facilitated the participatory identification of likely impacts based on these projections. In Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, RIMES trained sectoral users in 2013 on translation of forecast information into potential impacts, in collaboration with these countries' NMHSs, under the ESCAP-supported project on Reducing risks of tsunami, storm surges, large waves and other natural hazards in low elevation coastal zones. Under the same project, RIMES established Climate Risk Management Field Schools (CRMFFS) in Tamil Nadu, India, facilitating farmers' experiential learning on crop-weather interaction and forecast application in farming decisions. These schools are also avenues for climate change risk and adaptation awareness. Demonstrations of climate information application are central to RIMES projects to advocate with end users and communities the benefits from application.

RIMES also facilitates the establishment and institutionalization of Monsoon Forum, a platform for NMHS-users dialogue, for increasing access to usable climate and weather information and for providing feedback on their application. Forums have been established in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, and Viet Nam.

The efforts are matched with research, to increase understanding of climate change impacts on the local climate and risk patterns. Finally, RIMES aims to influence policy to consider climate risks in development planning. For example, in Tamil Nadu, India, RIMES has influenced the State's five-year planning process, with the consideration of climate risks in the identification of development targets.

In all these, RIMES has shown that building climate-resilient communities is possible through committed involvement of the NMHS, user institutions at national down to local levels, and communities.