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National Climate Change Information System – integrating data and decision-support

By Claire Davis-Reddy and Amelia Hilgart, SAEON uLwazi Node
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Realistic monitoring and reporting of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts requires a coherent system of data collection within the national, provincial and municipal administrative structures.

"South Africa needs a country-wide monitoring system to measure climate variables at scales appropriate to the institutions that must implement climate change responses.” – National Climate Change Response Plan

In partnership with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), SAEON is developing a series of decision-support tools for climate change adaptation, monitoring and reporting, including the National Climate Change Information System (NCCIS).

The NCCIS is a web-based platform that collates data from a range of sources for the purpose of specific reporting requirements, and integrates systems commissioned by the DEFF, from SAEON and from other stakeholders locally and abroad.

The information presented in the NCCIS can be used to provide insights regarding the country’s progress in responding to climate change and achieving national and international goals and targets. It showcases necessary information for domestic and international reporting requirements and informs positions in various negotiating platforms nationally and internationally.

The NCCIS is part of the national effort to track South Africa's overall transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy by offering a series of decision-support tools to inform policy and decision-making.

The NCCIS is a first step towards the development of an open-source, standards-based and integrated portfolio of systems that aims to eliminate duplication of effort, limits multiplication of data sources and is reusable on many levels of government in South Africa. The NCCIS is composed of building blocks and key elements to identify specific aspects of climate resilience for direct monitoring and evaluation.

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Figure 1. NCCIS overview schematic of the different components, tools and associated policy and research documentation

These building blocks include:
  • The National Climate Change Response Database (NCCRD), a portal for capturing and reporting climate change projects and their details.
  • National Desired Adaptation Outcomes (NDAO), designed as a monitoring and evaluation framework for climate change resilience through progress towards a series of adaptation goals.
  • The Climate Information Centre, a collection of actionable data sets and information relevant to the South African climate change field distributed as required by data providers and formal sources. 
  • The Tracking & Evaluation (T&E) Portal, a data visualisation tool that presents information on the details of actions, indicators, impacts and related challenges, targets and investments.
  • Portfolio of online atlases, including links to other thematic atlases such as the BioEnergy Atlas, South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas and the Carbon Sinks Atlas being developed by SAEON.
  • Services, tools, static content and documentation including reports, policies and guidelines, and other digital objects developed by external partners and stakeholders. This includes links to the CSIR’s GreenBook and DEFF’s Let's Respond Toolkit. 
  • Standardised vocabularies serving as a common frame of reference for climate change reporting and monitoring.
  • Search and discovery capabilities.

 

Beta version of NCCIS

The beta version of the website, including the NCCRD and NDAO systems, was released in August 2019. Training workshops run by the DEFF were presented in Kimberley, Durban and Nelspruit.

The site is in the process of being tested before its official release in March 2020. The sole purpose of this beta version is to conduct testing and obtain feedback. There is a ticket logging system to report bugs, lack of functionality or other problems on the beta website.

Since climate change information is often difficult to communicate beyond the scientific community, due to its inherent uncertainty and complexity, the NCCIS uses novel methods for the communication of future changes. Two such approaches are demonstrated below: (1) infographics designed using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) symbols and definitions; and (2) climate change narratives or story descriptions outlining key observed changes in climate and possible future changes according to province, as presented in South Africa's Third National Communication to the UNFCC.

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Communicating future changes by means of infographics designed using the IPCC symbols and definitions

 

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Communicating future changes by means of climate change narratives or story descriptions outlining key observed changes in climate and possible future changes according to province, as presented in South Africa's Third National Communication to the UNFCC

 


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Presentation at the Eastern Cape Province Climate Change Forum in East London (August 4–5, 2019)

 

Useful links

NCCIS demo: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Io5Xzk_ghfJ1p6l8RBgP9R0-QCprQKcY?usp=sharing

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