Climate Services (Apr 2023)

Upscaling of climate services – What is it? A literature review

  • Galina Guentchev,
  • Erika J. Palin,
  • Jason A. Lowe,
  • Mark Harrison

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 30
p. 100352


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Translating climate data and information for use in real-world applications often involves the development of climate service prototypes within the constraints of pilot or demonstration projects. However, these services rarely make the transition from prototype to fully-fledged, transferrable and/or repeatable climate services – that is, there are problems with upscaling them beyond the pilot/demonstrator phase.In this paper we are using the mainstream understanding of the three main types of upscaling: reaching many (horizontal), enhancing the enabling environment (vertical), and expanding the product or service’s features (functional). Through a review of the general upscaling literature, coupled with focused interviews with weather/climate services experts, we found that there are common barriers to, and enablers for, successful upscaling – many of which apply to the specific case of upscaling climate services. Barriers include problems with leadership (e.g. the absence of a long-term vision and/or strategy for upscaling); limited funding or lack of a business model for the service at scale; issues with the enabling environment for upscaling (e.g. poor policy context, inadequate governance systems); and poor user engagement.Lessons learned from the literature in the context of upscaling climate services include planning for it as early as possible in the prototyping process; including a monitoring, evaluation and learning approach to inform upscaling progress; taking actions to foster and enhance the enabling environment; and searching for a balance between generic solutions and fit-for-purpose products.