Review of the World Climate Research Programme (2009)


This report is the result of a review of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) carried out by a Review Panel appointed by its sponsors—the International Council for Science (ICSU), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO—and the International Group of Funding Agencies for Global Change Research (IGFA). The review was under taken simultaneously with a review of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). The report consist s of three parts: an introductory chapter, a chapter on findings and other relevant information, and a chapter on recommendations. The Annexes present background information including a list of Review Panel members and the Terms of Reference for the Review.

In short, the WCRP Review Panel recognizes the many important achievements of this international scientific research programme, and we conclude that WCRP can play a significant role in helping society meet the challenges of global climate change. But at the present time, WCRP lacks the focus, planning, and funding to meet these challenges. WCRP must focus its Projects and connect with partners and users in strategic ways, and it will need new resources to do so. The Review Panel’s recommendations are aimed at building the necessary focus and connections into WCRP and its partnerships. In particular, WCRP should:

  • immediately focus its 2005 WCRP Strategic Framework to better capture the WCRP role in providing the science that underpins research on climate predictability, adaptation, and mitigation, thus strengthening the links with key end-user groups.
  • rapidly implement its focused Strategic Framework, paying special attention to societal needs while maintaining it s science-driven approach.
  • introduce clear priorities into WCRP as a whole, collaborating with other Global Environmental Change programmes to take into account urgent science required for IPCC and other societal demands.
  • lead the initiative on Earth system modelling, in collaboration with IGBP and other Programmes, utilizing the full richness of relevant disciplines, and explicitly addressing scientific problems that lie at the inter faces with these disciplines.
  • consolidate and strengthen its focus as a user and promoter of observations as well as it s support of the components of the Global Climate Observing System.
  • set specific strategy and goals for building its scientific capacity in diversity of age and gender and for participation of developing country scientist s in planning and research.
  • build its resource capacity by enhancing support for coordination and advocacy for research and infrastructure needs. This will necessitate expanding it s funding sources outside traditional target s and working through IGFA.
  • expand its strategic outreach activities to target greater visibility and better uptake and utilization of WCRP outputs by the climate research community, the policy world and private sector, and more broadly to the general public.  In addition, WCRP’s sponsors should meet regularly to review their mutual responsibilities.

In addition,

  • WCRP’s sponsors should meet regularly to review their mutual responsibilities for the Programme in light of society’s increasing need for climate understanding, mitigation, and adaptation
  • WCRP, in partnership with other global environmental change programmes, should develop a framework for future joint research operation, with the initial focus on the element s identified in this Review. A sponsor-convened 12-month study is proposed to initiate and plan the process.
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