Climate Services for the Road and Bridges Infrastructure Sector in Costa Rica: Baseline Assessment Report

Submitted by Climate Risk Institute | published 3rd Aug 2022 | last updated 14th Nov 2022
Enhancing Climate Services for Infrastructure Investments
Climate Services for the Road and Bridges Infrastructure Sector in Costa Rica

Summary

This resource was submitted by the Climate Risk Institute for use by the CanAdapt Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice. 

This article is an abridged version of the original text, which can be downloaded from the right-hand column. Please access the original text for more detail, research purposes, full references, or to quote text.

Infrastructures are the fundamental basis for the sustainable development of a society’s economic prosperity and social well-being. The road infrastructure system in Costa Rica is especially vulnerable to extreme hydro-meteorological events. In the period from 2005 to 2017 such events caused economic losses of about US$ 2.210 million in the infrastructure sector of which more than half refers to road infrastructure (CNE 2017). In order to guarantee the functionality of the road infrastructure in the future and minimize costs for their preservation and reconstruction, climate proof infrastructure systems are essential. Climate risk management processes require the availability of adequate climate information which can be incorporated into development decisions and policy at relevant scale.

The CSI project (Enhancing Climate Services for Infrastructure investments) aims to empower decisionmakers of the road infrastructure sector in Costa Rica to make greater use of Climate Services when planning infrastructure investments and adapt engineering designs in order to raise the resilience of road infrastructure objects and systems in the context of climate change. 

In order to enhance the provision and use of climate information the current state of a National Climate Service for the context of the road infrastructure sector needs to be assessed and analysed. The baseline assessment is based on the concept and structure of the Global Framework of Climate Services. The assessment report provides an overview of the Climate Service inventory which encompasses currently available Climate Service capacities and specific products. It furthermore reflects the current use and demands of Climate Services from the road infrastructure sector. And finally analyses the sector-specific climate-value-chain which comprises the interaction of relevant stakeholders for climate information provision and key actors of the road infrastructure sector.

The assessment results are based on question catalogues which address climate information providers and users. The information was collected via surveys, workshops and interviews. Interview partners are representatives of the National Meteorological Service (IMN), the National Road Council of Costa Rica (CONAVI), the Bridge Unit of the National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models of the University of Costa Rica (LANAMME), the Municipal Management Unit of LANAMME, the School of Construction Engineering of the Centre of Investigations in Housing and Construction of the Technical Institute of Costa Rica (CIVCO/TEC), the department of water resources of CIVCO/TEC and a private consultant for the development of hydraulic design of bridges.

The results from the Climate Service inventory indicate that IMN adopts a central position as major stakeholder within the national network of climate information providers. Additional contributions come mainly from the academic sector as well as from external providers rather than from national providers. Fundamental results can be summarized by the following statements:

  • The operation of Costa Rica’s observation and monitoring is institutionally divided between meteorological and hydrological institutions with limitations regarding cooperation, a spatially homogeneous and temporally continuous observation and monitoring of climate variables and events as well as free data use.
  • Research activities on climate issues in Costa Rica are mainly initiated by IMN often in cooperation with the academic sector and other government departments. IMN is also the official institution for climate model development, climate predictions and climate change projection. However, since capacities regarding these tasks are very limited climate models and tools are often used from external sources. 
  • Costa Rica’s national Climate Service network is able to provide a comprehensive range of climate data services and information products (according to category 3 of WMO classification system). Although some selected sectors are continuously provided with climate information, there is a significant challenge to provide tailored and usable climate information to sectoral users.
  • The interaction with users is characterized as a customer relationship rather than a partner relationship. This relationship is reflected in the organizational structure of the prevalent NCS as well as in the process of Climate Service development which impedes the production of useful and usable Climate information products.
  • Existent capacity development structures mainly refer to the individual capacity development level. Greatest needs are, however, identified on the organizational and systematic level in order to develop an effective National Climate Service.

General characterizations of use and demand for Climate Services can be summarized by the following statements:

  • The consideration of climate information is not explicitly regulated in road infrastructure planning processes.
  • The main motivation for using climate information is internal motivation which refers to the organization’s vision, objective and policy.
  • Climate information is predominantly used for decision-makings processes which refer to infrastructure planning and implementation as well as the development and implementation of risk management plans. Most favourable risk management strategies are risk prevention by protection and risk prevention by transformation.
  • Most used climate information products are predominantly data products, both climate data and hydrological data, as well as basic climate statistics. The greatest demand for climate information products refer to climate change impact information, vulnerability and risk information as well as methodical products like trainings, workshops, lectures and information material on climate issues and tools which support decision-making, strategy development and financial planning. Urgent demands for services additional to climate information products refer to support for data processing and application as well as for the assessment of the information value for the specific context.
  • The most important reason for not using climate information is the limited access to freely available climate information, the fact that products are not existent (e.g. no available data for a specific region or time period) or the existence of the product is not known as well as the lack of regulations that obligate the use of climate information products.

The results from analysis of the climate value chain can be summarized by the following statements:

  • Main sources of climate-related information for users from the road infrastructure sector are the IMN for climate data and ICE for hydrological data.
  • CONAVI takes a central position within the climate-value-chain of the road infrastructure sector coordination, both regarding the coordination of sectoral tasks and processes as well as the use of climate information.
  • Most of the other sectoral stakeholders take functions of climate service intermediates which imply the provision of value-added climate information products.
  • There is a gap in the systematic production and management of such value-added products relevant for the road infrastructure sector. Three possible reasons for this gap are identified: (1) lack of a hydrological service; (2) the lack of a sectoral coordinating partner within the NCS; (3) the lack of cooperation structures with key stakeholders from the road infrastructure sector.

The fundamental recommendation regarding the baseline assessment refers to the establishment of a road infrastructure branch within the prevalent National Climate Service of Costa Rica. This sectoral branch envisages an incorporation of sectoral and political partners which adopt various functions in the development, provision and communication of Climate Service products relevant for the road infrastructure sector. Other recommendations mainly refer to details of the implementation of such a sectoral NCS-branch.