Linking climate knowledge and decisions: humanitarian challenges
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Future atmospheric conditions are increasingly predictable as a result of scientific and technological advances. From short-term storm forecasts to long-term climate trends, humanitarian organizations now have an unprecedented ability to anticipate threats to people at risk. At the same time, vulnerability patterns are shifting as a result of ongoing processes such as urbanization and the AIDS pandemic, which present complex and dynamic interactions with climate risks. The future looks different: more natural hazards combined with new vulnerabilities will continue to increase the workload of already overstretched humanitarian organizations. Against this background, the complexity and range of possible humanitarian decisions is rapidly expanding, owing to progress in technologies to obtain, process, communicate, and use relevant information, as well as new financial instruments, trends in academic institutions and other promising developments. Humanitarian organizations are adapting to new climate risks, vulnerability patterns, and decision capacity. Yet, regrettably, their efforts seem to be outpaced by the changing threats and opportunities. In order to reduce this gap, it will not be enough to simply train existing staff on new tools, or expand the staff and volunteer base: the humanitarian sector needs to fundamentally restructure its relationship to knowledge-based entities that can rapidly absorb and act upon the increasingly reliable information about changing risks. This will require not just partnering with key stakeholders, but essentially reconfiguring decision-making processes. Many of the potentially catastrophic climate-related disasters could be managed by the humanitarian sector through adequate monitoring of key system variables, and a systematic approach for preparing to act in response to the many plausible early signs of problems.
This repository item contains a single issue of The Pardee Papers, a series papers that began publishing in 2008 by the Boston University Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. The Pardee Papers series features working papers by Pardee Center Fellows and other invited authors. Papers in this series explore current and future challenges by anticipating the pathways to human progress, human development, and human well-being. This series includes papers on a wide range of topics, with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary perspectives and a development orientation.