Global Climate Services: A Typology of Global Decisions Influenced by Climate Risk

Discover a typology of decisions relying on global, i.e., non-local, climate risk information, and explore the current state-of-the-art in global climate services to address these decisions in this article.
Multiple Authors
Rice fields, Vietnam
Changes in crop and land conditions in a rice-producing region in Vietnam.Photo: Flickr, European Space Agency (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Climate services provide stakeholders with “usable” climate information and tools in order to assist decision-making. At local and regional scales, climate service co-development has led to seasonal forecasting tools for agricultural sector stakeholders, local flood risk assessment tools, and coastal risk assessment.

Yet global climate services have hardly been addressed to date. Global climate services refer to climate information or tools that are non-local, and thus support specific global decisions by delivering coherent information for many locations, regions or countries around the globe. This is a significant gap as there are a number of salient decisions with global dimensions that are exposed to climate risks.

In order to advance global climate service development, this paper aims to fill the gap in the literature regarding climate services addressing global decisions.

This weADAPT article is an abridged version of the original text “Global Climate Services: A Typology of Global Decisions Influenced by Climate Risk” published in Frontiers in Marine Science, 8(728687), under the CC BY 4.0 license in December, 2021 © Bisaro et al. Please note that references have been removed. For more detail, full references, and to quote text please use the paper available for download on the right.


The aim of this paper is to explore the state-of-the-art in global climate services and our approach to doing so is as follows:

  1. First, we build a typology of global decisions requiring climate information. The typology is based on several distinctions regarding the number of actors involved, whether decisions involve mitigation or adaptation, as well as the types of assets and risks at issue.
  2. Second, in the spirit of the co-development approach, we identify real-world examples of such decisions mostly from the coastal domain based on stakeholder interactions and literature review. We further characterize the decisions based on decision-analysis and context variables in order to highlight the relevance of global climate and SLR information to the decisions. This further characterization of decisions provides insight into directions for the future development of global climate services by identifying appropriate decision-making methods, and identifying constraints or enablers (e.g., institutions or norms) for global climate service development.

Data collection for identifying real-world global decisions was carried out in the INSeaPTION project, a collaborative research project, which had, among others, the aim of co-developing coastal climate services at the global scale. To this end, two workshops were conducted with global stakeholders.


The table below (see Table 2 in the paper, p. 5) presents the typology of global decisions. It should be noted that the decision types are “ideal types” and in practice decisions may encompass more than one decision type. For instance, adaptation and mitigation are complementary responses to climate change. Thus, decisions on mitigation targets depend on the outcomes of decisions on adaptation measures and vice versa. Further, some portfolio decisions may need to consider several types of risk, i.e., direct climate risk, supply chain risk, and financial network risk. Here, each decision type is discussed separately.

Discussion: Global climate service development

Empirical Status of Decisions

Both decision-making processes and related global climate service development vary widely in terms of how advanced they are.

On one hand, for decisions on multilateral adaptation, we observe that decisions’ “empirical status” is often in early stages. Moreover, because of the absence of institutionalized decision-making processes driving demand for knowledge, scientific knowledge may be lacking for these decisions.

On the other hand, for portfolio decisions, decision-making is driven by private actors’ own business models and incentives, and multi-actor processes are not generally required. Indeed, portfolio decisions are generally taken in a competitive market environment and create largely private adaptation benefits.

It should be noted that future development of global climate services will be influenced by approaches to respective public and private roles in managing climate risks, and appropriate sharing of costs and benefits of such adaptation.

Global Scale Knowledge Gaps and Implications for Global Climate Service Development

Knowledge gaps emerge that cut across multiple decision types and should be addressed by global climate service development.

One knowledge gap involves climate-related financial network risk, which can affect portfolios decisions regarding both physical and financial assets as well as multilateral climate policy decisions. This is because financial network risks can affect individual asset prices, but also financial system stability adding to the overall global costs of climate change. While emerging efforts to integrate climate risks into sovereign risk assessments capture financial network risks to an extent, these activities do not address climate-related risk to financial system stability more broadly.

Another knowledge gap relates to decisions that address more than one decision type. Real-world decisions often involve more than one decision type, and global climate services to address such decisions are lacking. Prominent examples from the financial services sector address multiple decision types and are promising directions for global climate service development.

Finally, beyond these specific knowledge gaps, we note that developing “usable” science for global climate services requires co-development between scientists, policy-makers and private companies, and these interfaces are influenced by the norms, institutions and preferences in specific decision contexts.


The presented typology shows that there are many salient global decisions currently being addressed by governments and private companies around the world.

Further, we found that global climate service development should address very different aspects for multilateral (and generally public) decisions, as compared to portfolio (and largely private) decisions. For the former, scoping assessments and decision identification are needed, in order to advance discussion and research on impacts of large-scale global climate policy measures. For the latter, private investors are already beginning to address climate risk in their own decisions, and global climate service development can further support this through co-developed tailored approaches that respond to the specific decision contexts and knowledge gaps encountered by these stakeholders.


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