WRC lighthouse 2 - Climate Change
The WRC Lighthouses
The construct of the WRC Lighthouse is a strategic developmental tool that will be further developed and implemented in this five-year planning cycle to direct research in key areas identified by the WRC. These Lighthouses are flagship programmes, and are trans-disciplinary, multi-KSA and inter-institutional mega-projects that will examine priority water issues across the innovation value chain. The WRC will actively seek to direct key projects into these programmatic areas. In the 2013/14 financial year, the WRC developed work plans for each of the Lighthouses.
The WRC Climate Change Lighthouse entails collaborative research on priority water-related climate issues, with partnerships forged along the innovation value-chain to enhance water R&D nationally and globally. This Lighthouse will, inter alia, benefit from related project outcomes across the WRC’s key strategic areas and leverage resources as well as expertise externally. It will conduct a foresight exercise for the WRC which should inform core business. It is expected that climate change as a cross-cutting water management challenge will need to be taken into account horizontally across all sectors and vertically across various scales, from local to regional and global levels. Additionally, the aim is to empower the poor and reduce their vulnerability to climate change impacts and improve their livelihoods, to provide policy makers with a toolbox of appropriate decision support systems, and to support adaptation action by various sectors and enhance their adaptive capacity to climate impacts.
The five-year plan
The envisaged Climate Change Lighthouse will consider relevant previous and current work conducted both internally (i.e. within the WRC) and externally (outside the organisation), identify gaps, and make up for this shortfall where feasible. A systematic review of the methodology for collating information will then be undertaken to assess the current status of knowledge, through a short-term project. This work will also include the development of a long-term climate change research agenda. Thereafter, a call for proposals will be made to bridge gaps identified through the earlier process and as informed by the short-term project outcomes. The WRC will support the mainstreaming of the research outcomes (latest credible science) into water-related policy practice as well as responses to developmental and adaptation needs. In this regard, a relevant project entitled “Developing water related climate change adaptation options to support implementation of policy and strategies for Water for Growth and Development,” will be completed by the end of March 2014. In addition to a formal report the products include a handbook to support implementation of adaptation options. Skills base development, refinement of attribution techniques, economics of climate change, socio-economic aspects, the climate–agriculture nexus, green economy, and mitigation action within the water sector’s management of uncertainties in climate modelling are some of the short-term issues that will be addressed.
The 15-year vision
A relatively longer term vision will focus on addressing emerging and challenging issues such as attribution (e.g. impacts due to climate change as opposed to land-use change), development of decision support tools and systems, as well as vulnerability and impact assessments.
Some of the key priority issues include: ensuring enhanced access to good data; research on water-relevant information required to formulate robust messages (e.g. mountain hydro-climatology); enabling improved uptake of available scientific information; developing climate change and ecosystem services, and assessing current adaptive capacity (stress testing, early warning systems, national planning, disaster response, institutional capacity, infrastructure maintenance, risk and vulnerability assessments) of systems. The focus will be on freshwater systems and adaptation with the necessary mitigation actions.
Alignment to the National Climate Change Response Policy and Strategy and potential partnership or collaboration with related programmes (e.g. climate change response strategies for various sectors) must be ensured.