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Environmental Information Commons Courses

Experiential Learning via a Loss & Damage Registry

Climate change is transforming life on the planet; global temperatures are rising leading to increased frequency, duration and intensity of drought and flood events. Between 2012 and 2020, an estimated a half million people moved across US States on account of climate induced stresses such as floods, fire, heat, and drought. While globally the transport and energy sectors may be bigger contributors of green house emissions responsible for rising temperatures, the agriculture sector, especially that in the global south is disproportionately affected by the impact of higher temperatures on account of their populations that are reliant on the sector for a living. The potential for climate change induced displacement of people on account of water, energy and food insecurity has increased. Agriculture Research for Development (AR4D) therefore, has a role to play by enhancing the accountability of climate adaptation efforts through identification of financing systems and monitoring regimes that compensate for "loss and damage" of infrastructure, cultural assets and harm to human health especially for historically marginalized communities. 


The Climate Panel initiative supports innovations in data-driven learning and collaborative problem solving with a focus on advancing the resilience of Water-Energy-Food (WEF) systems. Climate resilient WEF planning is fundamentally different from the conventional approach because it necessitates rigorous and integrative assessment of key risks across sectors, departments, and planning themes. The United States Environmental Protection  Agency (EPA) emphasized adaptation planning and monitoring in its Climate Resilience Screening Index (CRSI) Report, 2021. The CRSI provides an overview of the capacity of individual States to respond to climate change risks, indicating which States are most resilient or vulnerable to climate change impacts. Mapping is however only the first step. The critical step that should follow is to incentivize each State to implement adaptation plans by monitoring the use of federal funds through a robust rating and rewards framework. Human centered technology design that employs data analytics to capture localized features of environmental challenges can facilitate robust adaption planning.


The Climate Panel seeks to develop a Loss & Damage Registry that can monitor implementation of a rating and rewards regime that responds to local specificities while creating opportunities for experiential learning. Experiential learning is important because too often what is considered scientifically significant is not translated into policy and practice. The nuanced understanding of trade-offs between economic growth and environmental resource conservation/socially inclusive development can support a process of prioritization and targeting of the area and community which stands to benefit the most from climate change interventions in different regional contexts. There are important lessons that can be drawn from co-curation of data and environmental models via a Loss & Damage Registry that can potentially offer benefits to practitioners and students from a variety of disciplines ranging from cloud computing, earth systems science, environmental geosciences, geography, environmental studies, and social science research methodology.

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The Climate Panel has developed a “model of models” to help us understand and act by connecting data to models to influence decision-making at the level of local governments and communities. The Climate Panel is an open-access platform that uses experiential learning techniques to co-curate a model in 3 steps by: (a) constructing typologies of trade-offs, (b) constructing composite indices and (c) identifying institutional pathways that address acute environmental trade-offs. The 3 step approach underlies a tutorial to thesis model (or the T2T model) that will guide participants from an initial introduction to climate change-induced disasters to develop a personally crafted thesis for which they may draw upon two examples: one of global wastewater reuse and another of watershed management. The thesis will double up both as a personal testament of individual learning while at the same time generating a field guide that demonstrates innovative approaches to undertaking environmental planning by focusing on water-energy-food systems.

The T2T model will explore the modalities for co-design and co-curation by using data and models sourced from multiple sources and using different medium (public, private, SMS, remote sensed data) to nudge practitioners to consider the use of typologies of trade-offs and composite indices as tools that can guide environmental planning and management. The following are the key learning outcomes of the T2T model which our environmental science courses will explore through climate tutorials spread over 12 lectures covering a three-month period (from May to July & September to November) for the period 2020 to 2030):

Climate Resilience Monitoring
  • Data harmonization: ontologies, units and formats/semantics of data collection and use
  • Data transformation: indicator selection, weight allocation and composite indices
  • Data valorization: categorizing geographies based on planetary thresholds, trade-off intensity & institutional response to environmental disasters.
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