Governments, businesses, and citizens in South Asia all need access to good information to make decisions in a changing climate. However, the uncertainty of climate change’s impacts, complexity associated with climate vulnerability, and the lengthy time-frame along which global warming will unfold make the “adaptation information agenda” unclear. This paper, which served as background for a South Asian regional workshop on information use in climate adaptation decision-making, aims to identify barriers to information use for climate adaptation in South Asia and proposes four areas of further inquiry, which were discussed at the workshop.

Executive Summary

Ideally, adaptation information will be tailored to meet the needs of individual information users. However, in many cases, information is supply-driven, shaped in large part by the interests of researchers and the limited data available to them. In these cases, it’s oftentimes challenging for users to access, understand, and apply the information available to them. To support effective adaptation over the long term, improved systems for producing, managing, using, disseminating, and learning from information in South Asia are needed. Significant new capacities will likely need to be developed to meet these needs.

This paper served as background for a South Asian regional workshop, which brought together adaptation information users and producers, as well as climate change experts. The workshop aimed to inform likely new investments in the information base for climate adaptation. Convened by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Development Alternatives, with support from the UK Department for International Development, the workshop intended to identify:

  • priorities for information investment,

  • opportunities for improving information use, and

  • mechanisms for deepening dialogue between information users and producers in the region.

This paper aimed to support progress toward these workshop objectives by:

  • identifying barriers to effective information production, access, and application in the South Asian region;

  • posing a practical vocabulary for characterizing relevant information types;

  • articulating a concise set of uses for adaptation information; and

  • raising a set of critical issues around which to frame workshop discussions.

The paper draws on desk and interview research conducted by WRI from November 2011 through February 2012, as well as feedback obtained from a roundtable event held on the margins of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties-17 in Durban, South Africa.