WCRP implements numerous activities supporting research efforts across the spectrum of the programme. These include acquiring, analyzing and interpreting observations, developing coupled and Earth system models for projections and prediction, and synthesizing and assessing collective knowledge for use by decision-makers. Education and capacity development are critical to the success of this entire effort, because without intellectual leadership and scientific and technical knowledge, these efforts cannot succeed.

The objectives of WCRP Capacity Development are to:

  • stimulate bottom-up initiatives for climate research and applications, corresponding to the Grand Challenges and focused on providing improved products that are of service to society;
  • help build regional and global capabilities for sustainable activities by WCRP groups and projects;
  • facilitate the required learning environment and build on existing networks and structures to ensure continuous and future leadership for climate science and applications.

With no priority implied by the order, WCRP pursues Capacity Development under these principles:

  1. The primary objective of WCRP Capacity Development is to empower long-term achievements in climate research. WCRP shall promote data and knowledge sharing at all stages of Capacity Development activities.
  2. In the same context, WCRP promotes current and future leadership in climate research. WCRP Capacity Development shall make particular efforts to support and engage early career researchers, encouraging cross-disciplinary exchange in Earth system science.
  3. WCRP encourages a bottom-up approach, and stimulates the initiatives for climate research and applications made by the global research community.
  4. WCRP Capacity Development aims to fill gaps and coordinate efforts across the programme, avoiding overlapping at all levels. It is highly desirable that efforts for global and regional activities are coordinated in a harmony so the complementary benefits are clearly demonstrated for the areas covered by WCRP activities.
  5. At the regional level, WCRP’s approach shall be on the basis of science topics and motivations that correspond to the specific requirements of regions, rather than geographical distribution. WCRP, through the general guidance of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC), is to encourage activities promoting an array of opportunities that are useful for specific regional requirements to develop capacity for climate research.
  1. WCRP Capacity Development activities shall include means of monitoring, evaluation, and assessment of progress as well as evolving requirements of the respective research community.
  2. WCRP Capacity Development activities should correspond to research requirements for improved climate services, and strive for relevance, sustainability, efficiency, and focus.
  3. Specific activities to improve research capacity shall be implemented by the respective Core Projects, Working Groups and other WCRP panels, within or together with their respective scientific work-plans.
  4. WCRP Capacity Development activities shall endeavour to utilize existing methods, courses, tools, and other capacity development aids; particularly those of the WMO, IOC, and ICSU. WCRP should provide scientific guidance to the related research and development programmes of those co-sponsors, as the trusted research information source.
  5. The Joint Scientific Committee (JSC) shall provide general guidance in scientific priority in the Capacity Development activities. The Joint Planning Staff (JPS) and IPOs of WCRP Core Projects shall play a key role in coordinating relevant activities in a harmonized manner avoiding duplication.


Relevant Existing Capacity Development Activities and Identification of Gaps

Existing Capacity Development Activities

WCRP incorporates as many climate scientists and practitioners as possible into its activities, fosters their vocational training, and is involved in policy outreach. In collaboration with a range of partners, WCRP prioritizes the support and provision of opportunities for early career researchers and scientists from developing and emerging countries to attend training seminars and participate in WCRP-sponsored meetings, workshops, and conferences.

All WCRP core projects and many of its working groups conduct training schools. The community of experts involved in these schools regularly reviews and updates the curricula and training materials, with support from the Planning Staff and project offices. These training activities provide excellent opportunities for early career researchers to develop an Earth system science approach to climate research, and to further their engagement in regional and global WCRP activities. Since 2013 these training schools have directly addressed the WCRP Grand Challenges as well as gaps in developing climate services in various regions around the globe.

WCRP and its partners also organize training workshops and seminars on various topics. They aim to help climate researchers and practitioners improve their understanding of the latest climate research and their analysis and interpretation of climate information, thereby promoting best practices in modelling approaches, quantification of uncertainties and the like. These initiatives are usually planned in conjunction with major climate conferences with a strong focus on capacity development and knowledge-sharing. 

By providing opportunities for early career researchers and scientists from developing countries to attend training seminars and participate in meetings, workshops, and conferences, WCRP supports them in becoming partners in international global change research. The WCRP Joint Scientific Committee (JSC), core projects and working groups collaborate on the selection of topics and direction of these activities. The JPS works closely with the JSC and project offices to ensure that the general strategic priorities of WCRP are taken into account in the implementation of such activities, with due consideration also to the priorities of other sponsors.

On top of these ongoing and focused efforts to support participation of early career researchers and scientists from developing countries in such activities, WCRP continues to strengthen the linkage with networks of early career researchers in a more organized manner. Read more about how WCRP fosters future leaders.

Identification of Gaps

It is a necessity that WCRP build its resource capacity to enhance support for research and infrastructure needs, particularly in developing regions (i.e. South and East Asia, Africa, and South America). There is a subsequent need to expand funding sources of WCRP activities outside of traditional targets, and to enhance and extend partnerships beyond existing collaborations.

WCRP capacity development should make its research achievements useful and easily accessible to both the broad scientific community and stakeholders in climate-sensitive sectors. An emerging requirement is to extend the target for education and training to sector-specific user communities in order to provide the opportunity for communication, with a focus on developing a common understanding of uncertainty in climate projections and predictions. In the same context, WCRP must facilitate the application of scientific research to improve operational climate services.

Most importantly, the capacity development work of WCRP should aim to ensure the long-term achievements of climate research and the provision of products of benefit to society. WCRP should promote the sharing and exchange of knowledge based on a long-term scientific strategy. The development of mentor-mentee partnerships would achieve this by providing direct and sustained benefit to the researchers of developing and developed countries, enhancing institutional research capacity. This typically requires longer-term training in the form of fellowships, in addition to the short-term support of event-based activities.

Capacity Development Needs and Priorities

For the period of 2015-2020, the following items are identified as the common needs and priorities of all WCRP core projects and activities. These will be addressed through the strategies and work plans of the various WCRP groups:

  • build capacity and promote scientific excellence in all regions;
  • foster the conditions needed to enable the emergence of leadership in all spheres of WCRP activities, with particular emphasis on scientists from developing countries;
  • strive in all activities to include at least one actively participating scientist from a developing country, and continuously seek opportunities to increase this number;
  • include in steering groups and leading committees experts from those regions particularly in need of capacity development, including Africa, South America, and South/Southeast Asia;
  • strengthen linkages between early career researcher networks and steering groups of WCRP activities to provide an accessible forum for coordination of early career researcher activities within climate science;
  • encourage proportional representation in steering groups and leading committees from all regions in key WCRP activities and research, and propose ways to facilitate this;
  • continue to support training schools and workshops, with primary beneficiary targets being researchers from developing countries and/or early career researchers;
  • extend efforts by all WCRP core projects and working groups to develop, document, and enhance utilization of educational material, with support of participating experts, and with the aim of fostering education in WCRP-related science, particularly in developing countries;
  • ensure that a retention scheme is in place to make sure that scientists remain involved in WCRP activities;
  • continue to promote openness to researchers in developing and developed countries in the field of climate science, on global, regional, and local scales;
  • establish and agree upon a clear institutional mechanism that could facilitate capacity development activities as needed, through identifying financial resources for capacity development, providing guidelines and advice as necessary for resource utilization, and facilitating institutional procedures for resource management.

WCRP should ensure that the strategies and implementation plans of all WCRP core projects and activities include clear targets for capacity development which are consistent and streamlined with this strategy.

Partnership and Resource Mobilization

The continuity and long-term success of capacity development depend on sustained engagement of the involved science communities, especially those from developing countries. WCRP capacity development has been implemented largely by the volunteer contributions of the WCRP community, as well as through a modest budget for capacity development that is embedded in various WCRP activity budgets. In order to respond to the rapidly growing recognition of WCRP’s leading role in climate science, and demand from various communities, it is essential to identify the appropriate level of financial resources dedicated to capacity development activities. WCRP will continue to work together with partner organisations to promote capacity development in a synergistic manner.

Mechanisms for Monitoring and Evaluation

For a programme like WCRP, which undertakes activities at various levels in partnership with many other organizations and programmes, a performance evaluation is necessary to ensure that capacity development is being carried out in an efficient and effective manner. To this end, several aspects need to be addressed:

  • scientific aspects: taking into account improved understanding of climate variability, changes, and implications of this knowledge;
  • technical aspects: exchange of technology (particularly instruments) and the ability to use this technology;
  • institutional aspects: considering improved mechanisms for the engagement of scientific communities in the planning and implementation of research activities through WCRP core projects and working groups.

WCRP must develop and maintain connections with and feedback mechanisms between its sponsors and major external partners, representing the various requirements for climate research and applications, as well as different user communities.