What specific benefits can countries capture from participation in GFCS?

GFCS will produce a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits. It will build on existing investments in climate observation systems and scientific research in order to produce practical information for decision making. During the first several years, GFCS will generate most of its benefits in the priority sectors of disaster risk, food security, health and water. Just a few examples of the specific benefits that could be realized include:

■ Major infrastructure projects, such as water reservoirs, bridges, towns and factories, are normally expected to last for decades or longer. By anticipating future climate conditions, developers can ensure that their projects remain well suited to changes in water supplies, extreme events, and other variables shaped by climate.

■ Climate information can assist water resource managers to improve their operational planning, including the allocation of supplies in the short term and the development of infrastructure needed over the long term.

■ A better understanding of likely changes in the intensity and frequency of droughts or floods can guide investments in maintaining irrigation canals, building water storage towers, afforesting or reforesting hydrological basins, and so forth.

■ As the climate evolves and the timing of the seasons changes, the calendar for planting and harvesting crops will change. Better climate information will make it possible to time interventions and investments more precisely, thus boosting agricultural productivity. It can also be used to monitor and predict year-to-year variations in productivity and thus serve as an early warning system for potential food shortages.

■ The spread of infectious diseases such as diarrhea and malaria and of many water-borne diseases can be strongly influenced by climate. By combining climate and weather information with socio-economic data, health providers can more effectively organize vaccination campaigns and other interventions.

■ As the pattern of extreme events changes, good forecasts can provide early warning of potential hazards. They can also be used to minimize vulnerability by improving land-use planning, for example to reduce exposure to land slides or to sea-level rise.

■ More accurate evaluations of how climate risks and impacts will evolve could also help insurance markets to correctly price the risks posed by extreme events, sea-level rise, and wildfires, thus supporting disaster risk management and helping to ensure that insurance continues to be available.

■ Looking beyond the four priority sectors, climate has a significant impact on energy demand. More accurate estimates of energy supply and demand will make it possible to anticipate future energy use and ensure that there is sufficient supply, including from renewable sources, as climate services can also be used for evaluating the longer term potential of wind and solar energy.