EU-MACS Coordinator: Prof. Adriaan Perrels,

Climate service innovation market dynamics from a multi-layered perspective

Dec 15, 2017 15:13
Climate service innovation market dynamics from a multi-layered perspective

By Peter Stegmaier & Klaasjan Visscher, Dept. of Science, Technology and Policy Studies, Institute of Innovation and Governance, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands

Main messages: (1) There are different kinds of services with different underlying configurations of technologies, users, service providers, and business models; and (2) market development is complex and enablers and barriers are related. See EU-MACS Deliverable 1.4 for more detail.

Climate services are still a niche phenomenon. Service innovations tend not to be utterly smooth in the beginning. There is still a lot of experimentation with user practices, business models, products, regulatory structures, infrastructure, and technology, which makes it hard for them to compete on the market against established services or forms of ‘strategic intelligence’ (the latter we call ‘incumbent regime’).

The specific market itself might even be not yet fully developed (see above figure)—or very small and already dominated by the few services that were able to establish themselves in their niches. Newcomers will thus hardly gain a share, but rather have to find their own niches.

Especially when innovations include sustainability promises, market niches and user demands may not be ready yet, since the innovations may differ radically from the prevailing. Moreover, clever niche management will require to link niches at some point.

In order to become aware of climate services-related trends and processes that could have the potential to foster successful niche development, we carried out an explorative study (see EU-MACS Deliverable 1.4) on the EU niche governance of and procurement of innovation for climate services in global context, of emerging (soft) standards, conventions, and ethical frameworks; we looked into neighbouring niche developments (e.g. ecosystem services, climate engineering, platform capitalism with FinTechs and InsurTechs), into relevant technological innovations (e.g. blockchain, online information brokerage, internet of things, citizen sciences).

On incumbent regime level, we looked into innovation policies, consultancy, weather services, law, climate sciences, and economic frameworks; and finally also scanned into broader landscape developments, such as political discontinuation and economic divestment from fossil fuels, exits from climate governance, high-performance computing, social movements, knowledge demands, the blurring of design and use in many areas of governance, technology, science, and consumption, as well as into experiences with non-use and resistance.

For the stakeholder interactions we have developed—together with our project partners—a suite of interactive formats, in which this multi-actor and multi-layer perspective on actually useful climate services can be probed together with stakeholders.

As a red thread that runs through many stakeholder interactions, we have developed a typology of climate services along which we can imagine and discuss the prospective shaping of climate services at an early enough stage of a development (when modifications are still possible) through “constructive dialogues” between all relevant actors in a given field/sector.

Table: Overview of core characteristics for types of climate services

From the analysis we derived suggestions for the workshops, where they could be probed in stakeholder interactions and analyses. They carry key ideas for better enabling climate services by overcoming major barriers:

Climate services as ‘strategic intelligence’: Climate issues address problems that are dealt with in arenas whose complexity and variation is growing. Issues are negotiated in multi-actor settings and on multiple levels of governance and business. Services need to offer insights that can serve explorative and analytic approaches, as well as allow for specialist and integrated use.

Limitations of sectoral focus: On top of sectoral analyses it is relevant to identify cross-sectoral, sub-sectoral, trans-sectoral or even non-sectoral phenomena that might already have or win impact on climate services markets in the future.

Roles of technology for climate services market building: Technology and sciences play a crucial role for climate services in multiple ways: e.g. as instruments of research, as service infrastructure, and as means of communication. Climate services need to observe and probe novel technoscientific trends and possibilities in order not to lose contact with innovation trends and to use amplifying effects.

Role of organisations and institutions: Existing ways in which business or public organisations work, which could be users of climate services, need to be taken into account, such as formal barriers to using climate services and informal ways of collaborating even across departmental boundaries. The same is true for institutional enablers and barriers, like rules, procedures, standing practices, and instruments policy-making and management.

Allowing for a variety of climate services: Specialized, tailored services provided by climate experts receive most attention, but also climate services integrated in management consulting, policy consulting or engineering consulting, climate services shared by knowledgeable users, climate services embedded in technology based consumer services, as well as packaged in insurance products and other risk management service products should be considered in the interaction with stakeholders.

Be careful with labels: Whatever ‘climate services’ could be, may in its the actual context of use not be called ‘climate services’. What at the end of the day counts as ‘climate services’ may in practice figurate in many different terms and practices (e.g. linked to ‘resilience’, ‘climate adaption’, ‘risk assessment’, to name a few), depending on what justifies paying attention to climate issues in a given context. It even may in some way or another be connected to other kinds of services, advice, or intelligence, only making sense in combination with other bodies of knowledge.

Anticipating the end of subsidies: Providers, purveyors, and users of climate services need to develop plans to become independent of subsidised projects (getting out of the protected space), while public procurement might remain an important segment of the market.

Trade-off between ecological and economic targets: Climate intelligence by climate services may lead to more sustainable management and policy, but not necessarily; it could also foster strategies that push the limits of avoiding climate protection until profitability can no longer be claimed.

Non-use and resistance: User-related service innovation will have to analyse carefully what leads actors not to use climate services or to even reject them. Resistance is a common feature of change and innovation processes, which cannot be reduced to deficiency or an involuntary act, but rather could, at closer inspection, turn out to be perfectly rational, voluntary, and capable. In sensitive areas, for instance, every link to “climate” or other environmental issues may be avoided in order not to raise further leading questions.