Climate services – shaping a growing market

Climate services is a growing sector where market opportunities and ways towards operationalisation are being explored. Prof Dr Daniela Jacob of the Climate Service Center Germany outlines recent developments

Though still in its teenage years, the field of climate services has substantially developed towards a transition to adulthood over the recent years. Meanwhile there is a growing number of players active in this field, ranging from publicly funded service providers to fully privately financed consulting agencies; from actors with a strong scientific background to users with a profound knowledge of the business needs; from national and international donors to small communities that are seeking sound information for their local adaptation activities.

Given this large variety of actors, it is important to facilitate communication, to transfer knowledge and to share experiences on success and failure related to the development and support of climate service products. An open and intensive dialog based on partnership is key for the generation of new product ideas. A close exchange ensures that the community can learn from mistakes and avoid common pitfalls in the future. This culture of cooperation will boost the spirit of innovation which is critical for the development and operationalisation of new products and services.

In that light, it is essential to provide platforms that enable and maintain an open-minded conversation between the different climate service actors but which are also open for ideas beyond the climate services world. The Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), an innovation hub for prototype climate service products, acts also as initiator and facilitator of multilateral networks. GERICS recently designed and organised – in cooperation with different partners – 2 outstanding events that provided a venue for knowledge sharing and experience exchange between the various climate service actors.

The 5th International Conference on Climate Services (ICCS5), took place in Cape Town, South Africa, from 28 February to 2 March 2017. The meeting is part of a series of conferences organised by the international Climate Service Partnership (CSP), a platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration to promote resilience and advancing climate services worldwide. This year’s conference was organised by GERICS jointly with the University of Cape Town (UCT).

The ICCS5 was held within the broad frame of the notion “Innovation in Climate Services and Capacity Building”. Both issues, innovation and capacity building, are pivotal when it comes to addressing the evolving climate information needs and the development of responsible and effective climate services.

More than 200 participants from all over the world came together on this occasion to share their latest findings and experiences. They represented all players active in the climate services arena. The ICCS5 provided a potpourri of different formats including regular talks, market place booths, poster discussions and interactive sessions to connect participants and stimulate discussions. Central topics were “Learning from Success and Failure”, “Climate Services Business Models” and “Mutual Learning”. As a result, the community gained new inspiration to foster ideas towards future climate service development.

Although climate services have matured substantially by now, a central finding of the ICCS5 was that they still have a long way to go. Important steps are still missing until climate services can be considered operational. In this respect, the identification and implementation of stringent and transparent evaluation procedures are important, as well as quality assurance mechanisms within the community. If a business case for climate services is to be developed, it is also necessary to define and assign specific monetary values to the various kinds of services.

The second event was the “Climateurope Festival 2017” in Valencia, Spain, from 5 to 7 April 2017. The festival was conceptualised by GERICS as part of the ongoing EU project “Climateurope”. As primary objectives the project coordinates on-going and future European climate modelling and observations initiatives, develops a Europe-wide framework for climate service activities, identifies gaps, challenges and emerging needs and enhances communication activities with stakeholders.

The festival was an innovative activity in order to facilitate a dialogue among European climate science communities, funding bodies, climate service providers and users. Inspired by the motto “Climate information at your service”, the participants discussed the advantages and challenges that climate services face in the sectors water, ecosystem, and agriculture and food production. Shining the light on the way to operationalisation, innovative small and medium enterprises (SME), as well as start-ups in the field of climate services presented their business-cases. Throughout the meeting, discussions centred around improving ways to deliver better and more efficient climate services in order to enhance market development.

There was a clear spirit during the festival that sharing knowledge and expertise is key for the creation of a successful climate service market. Moreover, it became apparent that private providers of climate services are already pushing the climate services market and that businesses are ready to use climate services, because they profit from cost savings, business continuity, competitive advantage and a stronger reputation.

Common for both events was the clear statement that innovation needs failure. This is a crucial message to providers and users of climate services and for the donors as well. Only if we are open-minded enough to test new ideas – which implies that they might not work – we create chances and opportunities to generate exceptional climate service products. Furthermore, the need to keep up the dialogue between the various climate service actors was expressed during both events. This is of particular importance so as to ensure transparency in the process of climate service development and to build coordination amongst the different players.

As the needs for climate services are diverse and complex, there is no single institution that can deliver such services on its own. Only coordinated activities within the community can ensure the more orderly and productive development of climate services to facilitate the implementation of operational services. Equally important is an approachable climate service community that continues to grow and brings aboard new players from different backgrounds and cultures in order to broaden the collective expertise and to stimulate new developments. In this context, the International Conferences on Climate Services and the Climateurope Festival are central pillars in widening the community and defining the road ahead. Now is the chance to get involved in guiding the field of climate services through adolescence and towards adulthood.

The Climate Services Partnership

The Climate Services Partnership (CSP) is a platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration aimed at promoting resilience and advancing climate service capabilities worldwide. It is an informal, interdisciplinary network of climate information users, providers, donors and researchers who share an interest in climate services and are actively involved in the climate services community. Members of the CSP recognize that their collaborative efforts have the potential to exceed those of any single institution acting alone. GERICS was founding member of CSP in 2010. The CSP is managed by its secretariat, which is led by GERICS since 2015.


The five-year project is funded by the European Union under Horizon 2020 (project ref. 689029) and started in 2015. It contributes to the implementation of the “European research and innovation Roadmap for Climate Services”, developed by the European Commission. The project links different European research projects and initiatives. Among them are, for example, the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the European Research Area Network for climate services, the European Network of Earth System Modelling, and the Climate-KIC.

Prof Dr Daniela Jacob

Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS)

Please note: this is a commercial profile


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