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News / Comment

19APR
2017
NEWS / Climateurope Festival 2017: Sunshine and climate services
Category: Latest News

 

Image: View of historic city centre of Valencia. Photo by Felivet (public domain).

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

Earlier this month, Acclimatise staff attended the Climateurope Festival, in Valencia. The three-day event was the first of three festivals where scientists, climate services suppliers, and user communities come together to discuss challenges and experiences working in or with the climate services sector.

The festival was hosted by Climateurope, a Europe-wide network for researchers, suppliers, and users of climate information. It was convened to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practice, and act as a platform for researchers to engage actively with users of climate information.

Acclimatise’s Alastair Baglee, Richard Bater, and Elisa Jiménez Alonso attended the festival to share their experience of climate services from the on-going Horizon 2020 (8th European Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development) projects known as MARCO and EU MACS; Acclimatise is a partner in both projects, which are researching the European climate services market

 

Water scarcity and talking to the user base

The first day of the festival was hosted in the heart of the historic city centre of Valencia. Cradled between the gothic church of Santa Catalina and old narrow streets, delegates met to kick off the festival with a day focused on the water sector. Water management is a very important topic for the Valencian autonomous community. The region recently experienced two of its driest years on record, in 2014 and 2016, with 45% less precipitation than usual, threatening local agriculture.

One session that captured the imagination of many the participants was a ‘storytelling session’ about the River Júcar, which flows through the province of Valencia. A range of stakeholders, from utilities companies to local government, presented their relation to the river and how its climate-related changes were impacting them, but also how they were trying to find solutions. Participants found that solutions emerged when dialogue was established with the people using climate data. Janette Bessembinder from KNMI put it best, saying that we should all “drink more beer with climate services users!”.

Diogo Gusmao of the European Commission (EC) DG for Research and Innovation went one step further, saying that the climate services sector should include European citizens as its own stakeholder group – they, as the general public, too can and should use climate services.

 

Perspectives from providers

On the second day, the festival migrated to a fantastic space near the port of Valencia: “Las Naves”, the Centre for Urban Innovation of the City of Valencia, is a hub for art and literature in the city and a perfect venue for the creative discussions to come. Day two focussed on providing a platform for climate services providers to share their experiences. Jörg Cortekar and Juliane Otto from GERICS (Climate Services Center Germany) kicked off the discussion speaking about innovation of the climate services sector and how the field needs good employment opportunities that will attract the best candidates to help innovate it. The CS sector also needs to become SMARTER: Specific to user needs, Measurable, with Achievable goals, Relevant, Time-bound, regularly Evaluated, and Revised.

This was followed by Climalia’s Piero Pelizzaro who’s talk focussed on the challenges small and medium enterprises (SMEs) face in the climate services sector, especially with regards to funding innovation. He stated that the climate services market needs to be more innovative and smarter than other markets, which also includes increased collaboration within the market and amongst SMEs who do not have access to funds.

In the following round of discussion about SMEs and their lessons learned, Acclimatise Technical Director, Alastair Baglee emphasised the importance of communications, saying it was vital that the climate services industry spoke the same language as the sectors it is trying to reach. He also provided succinct advice about how to influence the private sector, saying that there are four topics that can be used to engage businesses: the continuity of their business, saving costs, having a competitive advantage, and improving or having a good reputation. Baglee also called for more effort to be made to export European climate services, which, he said, is currently an untapped opportunity.

After more presentations, which also included talks about EU MACS and MARCO by the respective project coordinators, Adriaan Perrels of the Finnish Meteorological Institute and Thanh-Tam Le of Climate KIC, all festival participants enjoyed a field visit to the Albufera Natural Park on the outskirts of Valencia. Members of staff at the park explained how climate change was impacting the park and its wildlife; in the past years they had seen new bird species breeding in the park, while others disappeared altogether from the region. The day ended, spectacularly, with a boat trip around the Albufera Natural Park lake where we saw herons, glossy ibises, and terns.

 

Food security

On the final day, the conference focus turned to food security and agriculture, and communications. Leane de Laigue of Climate Outreach presented its ‘Climate Visuals’ project, explaining the importance of visual storytelling around climate change. In an earlier talk by Evan Fraser of the University of Guelph, he explained how shifting and changing diets could help adapt agriculture to a changing climate. He spoke about insects as a potential source of protein that is almost entirely unexplored in Western cultures. While this may not currently seem appetising to many, Fraser made an interesting point about how attitudes towards sushi had dramatically changed in the past two decades. Maybe we will be enjoying cricket maki very soon!

The festival ended with lunch in the sunshine and participants from northern Europe making the best of the opportunity to top up their Vitamin D levels. It will be interesting to see how the Climateurope Festival evolves as an event over the next years. There is certainly potential for it to expand to include more users of climate services and get a fuller picture of the market, how it is perceived, and what is needed.

We look forward to the next events!

__________

Find out more about Climateurope on their website: http://www.climateurope.eu/

Climateurope is a project funded by the European Commission under the Framework Program Horizon2020 – Project ref. 689029

Tweets and impressions from the conference. For more, explore the hashtag #ClimatEU17 on Twitter:

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