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Forecasting communication in climate policy planning

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guest column:Peter Makwanya

MODERN climate policy planning does not only focus on future preparedness, it draws lessons from the past, by communicating risks based on current climatic events and impacts, including opportunities that can be realised from that.

In order to stay relevant and focused, climate policy experts make use of forecasting communication to anticipate potential climate hazards and use appropriate communication tool-kits for countering those hazards and weaponising information.

The idea to have knowledge of future climate communication needs is paramount in forecasting communication. Relevant communication tools are not used in isolation but according to specific situations and impacts.

Flashbacks of past climatic impacts, narrations, visuals and digital story-telling strategies, photographs, videos or films are some essential communication tools that can be harnessed.

Climate policy experts make use of forecasting communication for climate research, resilient planning and climate change mitigation. Building forecasts is highly fundamental by enabling policy experts to have options and opportunities for identifying potential climate risks, avoid them and design problem-solving techniques in advance. Forecasting communication is an essential resilient building tool for enhancing livelihood options and human preparedness.

Forecasting communication is both in the interest of the environment and policy planning. It promotes climate communication research in order to manage early warnings of risks and assessing their probability of occurring and their possible impacts.

Early climate indicators allow policymakers to map out mitigations or prospect opportunities well before climatic events occur or actually become reality.

In this regard, each climate indicator can be used to plan for a potential future outcome or event. This would empower climate researchers and policy planners with instruments for dealing with multiple indicators and shocks in order to boost confidence levels in dealing with uncertainties.

If anticipated climate risks occur, for instance farmers and conservationists would have knowledge beforehand on how climate risks would impact on their farming operations, agricultural production, tourism or conservancies.

As climate forecasting communicators plan their designs, they would have room to adjust their predictions depending on their confidence levels in confronting potential risks.

As a confidence and resilient building tool, forecasting communication empowers climate policy planners and researchers with diagnostic tools for monitoring and evaluation throughout the period of uncertainties. This can be done until evidence of resilience has been realised or when potential forecasts are no longer required.

In the whole framework of designs, it becomes certain that some forecasts would most probably occur, while some would definitely not occur at all.

Therefore, designing their indicators along these lines would help climate researchers and policy planners to separate events with little or no impact from those with high impacts. These would require expert communicators to modify and strengthen their campaigns.

The determination of forecasting communication lies in its ability to project a positive image for the future.

Forecasting communicators also need to consider having a rich history and good track record of managing past climate performances in order to build credible future projections.

Traceable references to the time of climate events, their settings and impacts can be used as basis for predictions.

In their orientation and operations, forecasting communicators and other relevant practitioners in this community of practice, need to set benchmarks for desired communicative deliverables.

These would be instrumental in examining issues of subjectivities or unplanned events based on uncertainties in climate change communication. Possible and potential risks should never escape the attention of these practitioners in order to identify opportunities embedded and provide recommendations for sustainable future climate solutions.

For instance, risks associated with seasonal flooding, perennial droughts, epidemics, forest fires, deforestations, cyclones, land degradations or pollution activities, in attempts to mitigate them, would be important to elicit public reactions if there are no forecasted mitigations.

In this regard, the projected mitigations would take into account costs for related climate impacts on human livelihoods.

Issues that have to do with authorities or government’s lack of preparedness in planning for disaster mitigation would normally attract media backlash or community outcry in general.

Therefore, the focus may also be on projected public and media reactions to comparable climate impacts. In a wide framework of operations, forecasting communicators would also work on plans or campaigns that have past trends or comparative events in order to forecast performance as well. In their projected deliverables and outcomes, communicators, researchers and policymakers can base their operations on strengths or weaknesses, opportunities and threats in order to build support for future resilience.

In this regard, that is why it is important for the past experiences to inform the current and future climate projections for the desired and sustainable mitigations, through empowering communication tools.

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