First NAP Expert Platform Meeting on Climate Projections

What are the gaps and ways forward in producing future climate projections in Thailand?
What are challenges in using future climate data for risk and vulnerability assessments in Thailand as well as interpreting them at the sub-national level?

These and other similar issues were discussed on March 25 during the first Expert Consultation Platform for NAP preparation organized by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) and supported by GIZ within the framework of the Risk-based National Adaptation Plan (Risk-NAP) project.

For the first phase of Thailand’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process, ONEP commissioned a national Vulnerability Assessment study aimed at assessing climate change impacts and vulnerabilities within the country’s major sectors including natural resources, tourism, agriculture and food security, public health and human security and settlement.

For the 1st draft of the NAP by the end of this year, various climate model experts have been invited to share their views on existing climate projections and climate modelling in Thailand. The meeting is part of a series of conferences and meetings planned for 2016, each with a different thematic focus around climate change adaptation in Thailand. They aim to enhance the inclusiveness and multi-stakeholder-based approach of the NAP process and bridge the scientific, policymaker and practitioner’s communities.

Four presentations on global and regional climate models, all articulating the challenges of downscaling these different models at the regional and local levels, were presented and discussed. “The more we go local, the more uncertain are the projections,” explained Dr. Atsamon Limsakul, Department of Environment Quality Promotion, adding that “Modelling is one way to understand climate change”.

Over the years, Thailand has collected a lot of climate data, running these through various models to produce national climate projections. Yet, the main challenge remains to pull all of these results together. “There is no central database,” Dr. Atsamon noted. “Ten years ago we had very scarce data, but now we have to find a way to effectively manage all the data we have.

Two other key issues concern the usability of this data for local decision-makers as well as the choice of scale to identify vulnerability hotspots. On the latter, there was consensus on the fact that risk or vulnerability assessments should not be limited to provincial or administrative boundaries. “We have lost our way because we have only looked at the provincial level and have not used GIS at the sub-district level,” said Dr Ratchapat from Rajamangala University. Indeed, several experts stressed that to identify key climate vulnerabilities and select suitable adaptation measures, natural boundaries such as watersheds have to be considered, thus implying that risk assessments should be conducted at several levels and consider multiple layers.

Moreover, the experts all agreed to make better use of data and resources of the Thai Meteorological Department (TMD). As mentioned by the former Deputy Director General of TMD, Dr Somchai, the department has recently received a government budget to acquire new climate models and tools. It will take a couple of months to run all the data through this new software, but the resulting projections should form sound evidence for climate change action.

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