Data scientists at the University of Warwick are starting a new project using innovative visualisation techniques, which they believe could transform how evidence is used to inform climate change adaptation initiatives.
The Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies - partnering with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supported by the Government of Denmark and the Government of Canada - will analyse the effectiveness of diverse attempts across the globe to adapt to climate change.
In this first stage of the initiative, the interdisciplinary team will use new models to understand complex social systems by collecting both "big (quantitative) data" and discrete "smart" qualitative data to better analyse the adaptation activities ongoing in Cabo Verde.
They will also explore ways of scaling up "integrated analytics" so that this information can be shared and quickly compared/contrasted with data from other countries implementing similar adaptation initiatives (e.g. Cambodia, Haiti, Mali, Niger and Sudan).
Dr Emma Uprichard, who is leading the project at Warwick, explained "A key problem with complex social systems analysis is that most methods aggregate data to see trends and patterns and the often hidden, meaningful linkages and relationships are lost. We are focused on designing and using methodologies that preserve the contextual micro- and macro- aspects of the data."
Sandra Martins, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for UNDP Cabo Verde and co-lead on this initiative from UNDP, explained: "There is a lot of valuable work going on in Cabo Verde to adapt to climate change. The challenge is how do we learn from this impressive portfolio in order to replicate or scale up successful approaches across the country?"
"We want to be able to better share adaptation experiences not only within a country, but also between countries," explains Jennifer Baumwoll, project coordinator for the UNDP-Canada Climate Change Adaptation Facility and co-lead on this initiative from UNDP. "But what works in one location may not work in another. Adaptation is very context-specific and will be affected by several factors, including variations in social and cultural practices.
"We want to be able to determine what the most effective solutions are, why they worked, and how they can be replicated or scaled up in other contexts. That is where this new research comes in. We will be working to capture insights on what is at the core of successful interventions and how this could be applied to adaptation efforts elsewhere."
She added: "With this tool and the analytic capability to apply it, the multitude of data emerging from these adaptation initiatives, which is now scattered and inaccessible, will be available to contribute to stronger, more efficient and more effective climate change adaptation action."
The project is being launched in September, with the first phase to develop a platform prototype by the end of 2015.
More information about the initiative is available on the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies website and the Canada-UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Facility website.