Fact Sheet: Launching a Public-Private Partnership to Empower Climate-Resilient Developing Nations

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Today, delivering on a major commitment announced by President Obama at the UN Climate Summit in New York last September, the Administration is announcing the launch of an international public-private partnership to empower developing nations to boost their own climate resilience. The partnership, Climate Services for Resilient Development, will provide needed climate services – including actionable science, data, information, tools, and training – to developing countries that are working to strengthen their national resilience to the impacts of climate change. The partnership is launching with more than $34 million in financial and in-kind contributions from the U.S. Government and seven other founding-partner institutions from around the world: the American Red Cross, Asian Development Bank, Esri, Google, Inter-American Development Bank, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, and the U.K. Government.

Climate change threatens our entire planet. Globally, 19 of the 20 warmest years on record all occurred in the past two decades, and the impacts of climate change – including more intense storms and storm surge damage, more severe droughts and heat waves, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and biodiversity losses – are already being experienced around the world. These impacts can be particularly damaging in developing countries, which often lack the resources and technical capacity to effectively prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change.

No single entity is capable of addressing the vast needs for improved climate services in these nations: for everything from projections of future sea-level rise that help planners identify places to build and develop that are out of harm’s way, to maps that overlay population, infrastructure, and climate data to help decision makers target resources to areas of greatest vulnerability. To meet these needs, the new Climate Services for Resilient Development partnership will harness the experience, unique capabilities, and resources of a broader set of societal actors and institutions, relying on collaboration between the partners and local stakeholders to ensure long-term ownership and sustainability of the partnership’s impact in focus countries.

The partnership announced today builds on significant progress made by the Obama Administration domestically to support communities across the United States in strengthening their resilience to the impacts of climate change, including by supporting climate resilient investments, planning for climate related risks, and providing tools and information for decision-makers. The Administration is continuing to advance actions to address on-the-ground climate-resilience needs. For example, the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Budget proposal includes $6 million to create a Resilience AmeriCorps program. And this year, the Administration will launch a pilot of the program to support AmeriCorps members in assisting communities to plan for and address the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events. 

About the Partnership:

The U.S. Government’s involvement in the Climate Services for Resilient Development partnership builds on the President’s continued efforts to position the United States as the leader in tackling climate change both domestically and abroad. The partnership will enable the U.S. Government to apply the technologies, scientific expertise, and capacities it has developed under the President’s Climate Action Plan to support resilience efforts in developing nations. The U.S. Government’s involvement in the partnership is being led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and other U.S. Government agencies contributing climate data and tools to meet the information needs of focus countries. The Peace Corps will devote some of its efforts to support on-the-ground implementation of climate-resilience activities.

In addition to the U.S. Government, the partnership includes seven other founding partners: the American Red Cross, Asian Development Bank, Esri, Google, Inter-American Development Bank, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, and the U.K. Government. The Administration looks forward to others answering the call and growing the partnership.

In recognition of the global diversity of climate service needs, the partnership will deliver tailored and targeted services to countries in sub-regions of Latin America (the Andean region and Caribbean), Africa (East Africa and the Sahel), and Asia (South Asia and Southeast Asia). The partnership’s initial efforts will be organized around development and application of scalable, replicable, comprehensive, and integrative climate services in focus countries representing each of these primary regions: Colombia (Latin America), Ethiopia (Africa), and Bangladesh (Asia).

The U.S. Government already supports a number of successful programs in this domain that this new partnership will leverage and augment, including the Climate Services Partnership, NOAA’s International Training Desks and International Research and Applications Project (IRAP), NASA and USAID’s SERVIR program, and the Global Resilience Partnership (GRP). Likewise, there are many institutions and programs in focus countries that the partnership will build on as a core component of its efforts. 

Commitments from Founding Partners:

Today, the founding members of the Climate Services for Resilient Development partnership are announcing significant commitments to complement existing efforts, expertise, and capacities in order to enable the partnership to achieve its mission to increase resilience to climate change impacts in developing countries:

  • American Red Cross: American Red Cross is part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which, with 13 million volunteers across national societies in 187 countries, is the world’s largest humanitarian network. American Red Cross will draw on this network to leverage existing in-country financial resources, staff, and ongoing programs in focus countries; connect local communities and civil society with local and national government agencies and other institutions; quickly scale promising practices (for example, proven climate tools and educational games that enhance decision making) to other countries and promote uptake of these practices; and deliver needed climate services to even remote, hard-to-reach locations in focus countries. American Red Cross will also work through two Global Reference centers focused on Climate and Disaster Preparedness to provide technical assistance informing policy, practice, and research around enhancing climate risk management and will provide an end-user’s perspective on how to tailor climate services to support strengthened decision making. Contributions from American Red Cross will build on other ongoing IFRC initiatives and existing partnerships, such as Global Framework for Climate Services, Building Resilience to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED), Partners for Resilience, Global Resilience Partnership, and Forecast Based Financing. Many of these efforts are coordinated through the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center.
  • Asian Development Bank: The Asian Development Bank will provide in-kind contribution in the first phase of the partnership. This will include support for the following activities in Asia: development and dissemination of climate services and products for more climate resilient investments; training and capacity building on the use and interpretation of climate data and the assessment of risks for development planning; analysis of future climate change impacts on major sectors and critical infrastructures such as those for transport, water, energy, urban development and agriculture; and climate change information and knowledge management portals.
  • Esri: Esri will donate access to its online mapping and analysis collaboration platform to focus countries, and will assist with country configuration and input of local data resources. This platform will provide access to foundational open spatial data sets, such as elevation, ecological land units, and climatological information products. After the collaboration platform is launched in a focus country, Esri will conduct an in-country training workshop for stakeholders. Esri will also provide thought leadership – including repeatable climate information templates and tools, documented geospatial best practices, and a methodology for conducting capabilities assessments – and will leverage its extensive network of 1,800 partners and over 350,000 user sites around the globe to encourage local knowledge sharing and collaborations.
  • Google: In support of the launch of the Administration’s Climate Data Initiative last year, Google committed to provide one petabyte (1,000 terabytes) of cloud storage to house satellite observations, digital elevation data, and climate and weather model datasets drawn from government open data and contributed by scientists, as well as 50 million hours of high-performance cloud computing on the Google Earth Engine geospatial analysis platform. To date, these resources have been used to ingest and create numerous datasets related to climate resilience including: downscaled (higher resolution) climate model forecast datasets (NASA), bias-corrected global precipitation datasets (USGS and the University of California, Santa Barbara), global weather forecasts (NOAA), global digital elevation models (NASA/USGS), global cropland extent (USGS), sea surface temperature observations (NOAA), and updates to global forest change data products (University of Maryland). Google is committed to continuing to make these powerful computational resources available to support activities of the Climate Services for Resilient Development partnership.
  • Inter-American Development Bank: As a founding member of the Climate Services for Resilient Development partnership, the Inter-American Development Bank will provide in-kind support to enhance the availability and use of climate data and other climate services in Colombia and other Latin and Caribbean countries. This support will include, among other projects, the development of a science and technology transfer program to help the scientific community in Latin America and the Caribbean use data and insights from regional/global climate models, projections, and other numerical tools to inform impact and vulnerability assessments of priority sectors; demonstrations on how to incorporate climate change considerations into watershed planning and management programs associated with high-mountain ecosystems; and efforts to strengthen the capacity of focus countries to monitor and evaluate the effects of climate change on local glacial dynamics and associated economic implications.
  • Skoll Global Threats Fund: Skoll Global Threats Fund works with partners across South Asia to improve climate data and information transparency in the region. As part of this partnership, Skoll Global Threats Fund will leverage its relationships and existing projects such as the South Asian Land Data Assimilation System with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Johns Hopkins University, and NASA; the Third Pole Project’s climate and water data platform, and the World Resource’s (WRI) Institute’s Aqueduct platform. Skoll Global Threats Fund will provide financial support in 2015 to help carry out partnership activities.
  • U.K. Government: The U.K. Department for International Development will provide financial support for coordinated provision of climate data and services in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In addition, the U.K. Met Office, which provides expert weather and climate-change forecasts for the public, business, and government in the United Kingdom and worldwide, will leverage its existing activities, expertise, and deep relationships with regional and national in-country meteorological services to support partnership activities in Asia and Africa. This includes areas such as institutional and technical capacity development, weather service modernization, and weather and climate data, information, and services in support of resilience.
  • U.S. Government: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide financial support for regional, country, and end-user needs assessments, as well as for implementing climate-service activities and products. Furthermore, USAID will build on its existing activities, such as SERVIR and the Global Resilience Partnership, to support activities of the Climate Services for Resilient Development partnership. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will contribute high-resolution elevation data available via a user-friendly format on its Earth Explorer website to empower local authorities to better plan for the impacts of severe environmental disruptions related to climate change, such as drought, glacial retreat, flooding, landslides, coastal storm surges, agricultural stresses, and challenges concerning public health. The U.S. Government will also leverage ongoing efforts at NOAA, NASA, and other Federal agencies that provide climate data and services.

Additional U.S. Government Commitments:

  • NASA: NASA is releasing a new Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections (NEX-GDDP) dataset that provides downscaled climate model outputs for every country in the world. These data are critical for researchers conducting studies of climate-change impacts at sub-national scales, and the outputs support the development of information products that enhance public understanding of possible future climate patterns and impacts at local and regional scales. The NEX-GDDP dataset represents a major expansion of NASA’s 2013 Earth Exchange Downscaled Climate Projections Dataset (NEX-DCP30). NEX-GDDP upgrades NEX-DCP30 by improving the temporal resolution of the data from monthly to daily averages, and broadening the geographic scope of the data from the conterminous United States to the entire globe. The NEX-GDDP dataset is publicly available HERE.
  • Peace Corps: The Peace Corps will continue to innovate its programming to empower Volunteers worldwide to work with their host countries on addressing the impacts of climate change at the grassroots level. The Peace Corps is signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, placing short-term technical Volunteers in Samoa to enhance local climate resilience. Volunteers in Ethiopia – one of the initial focus countries – are providing on-the-ground technical assistance and sustained engagement on climate change. The Peace Corps will also develop and launch an online climate-change community of practice, providing training modules, school activities, and other resources to help all Volunteers and staff better understand climate-change impacts and support resilience and mitigation efforts through their work.
  • U.S.-U.K. Collaborative Arrangement: The U.S. Government is joining with the U.K. Government on providing climate data, products, and services to support resilience and climate-smart development in developing countries around the world. This Collaborative Arrangement on Climate Data and Services for Resilience builds upon many decades of close scientific collaboration between the two countries. Under the arrangement, NOAA, USAID, the U.K. Department of International Development, and the U.K. Met Office will work together to share best practices and lessons learned in climate risk assessment and response, capacity-building in low-income countries, developing new and enhanced climate services to support climate resilience, and improving interfaces and platforms to help users easily access and exchange valuable climate information and services.
  • State Department: The State Department is announcing its “adaptation submission” to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Adaptation to the impacts of climate change is a challenge for all countries. The United States is one of the first countries to respond to the invitation made during the 2014 Lima Conference of Parties for countries to communicate their efforts in adaptation planning. This submission reflects the U.S. Government’s commitment to enhancing the resilience of the United States in the face of future climate uncertainties, as well as helping other vulnerable countries and communities do the same.
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