In order to initiate measures at an early stage in the areas of climate protection and adaptation, local decision-makers in developing countries often do not have a reliable data base. The reason for this is a lack of resources for systematic climate observation.
Following the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009, additional funding was provided for climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. The SDC used this funding to initiate the CATCOS project (Capacity Building and Twinning for Climate Observing Systems) within the framework of its Global Programme on Climate Change and Environment.
Spanning a period of over five years, the project provided ten partner countries in Africa, South America, Central Asia and Southeast Asia with targeted support in building their climate observation capacity. CATCOS focused on the installation of new measuring instruments, training for station operators and scientists, the promotion of regional cooperation and communication on the advantages of the climate data collected.
Several Swiss partners took part in the project: the Paul Scherrer Institute, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa), the University of Fribourg and the University of Zurich.
First, the measurements
From 2011 to 2016, greenhouse gas, aerosol and glacier measurements were established in seven – subsequently a total of ten – partner countries. In addition to the installation of measuring instruments and the resumption of climate observations, tailor-made training courses were provided, in the countries themselves and also in Switzerland. Local scientists, as well as station operators, were not just given training on how to use the new equipment, but also on how the collected data had to be processed in order to meet international quality standards. In subsequent courses, training was given on how to analyse the data scientifically and how to evaluate the results.
The expertise obtained through CATCOS was given recognition in the partner countries, as confirms Budi Satria, climatologist with the Indonesian Weather Service (BMKG): "After three months of training in Switzerland, I was able to better understand the effects of forest fires on air quality in Sumatra. I even received an award for my analyses at an international scientific workshop.”