Building the end-user tool

ToPDAd will produce a tool where decision-makers and businesses can understand the effects of climate change on various economic sectors and see the costs and benefits of adaptation. Rob Lokers and his team work to make the end-user tool as user-friendly as possible.

                                                                                                                            Photo: Private

Rob Lokers is the leader of Work Package 5 and responsible for deliverable 1.4: Specification of the next-generation toolset in Work Package 1. He works as a project manager of research Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects and research infrastructures in the team Earth Observation & Environmental Informatics at Alterra – Wageningen UR in the Netherlands. 


Rob and his team are working on building an end-user tool that can be used by a broad spectrum of users. So far, the team has made a framework for the integration of ToPDAd into CLIMATE-ADAPT – the European platform for climate-change adaptation, run by the European Commission. "Our job is to make ToPDAd results available for a wider audience in a comprehensive way. ToPDAd is running adaptation models which are really scientific tools. It is impossible for end-users to work with those tools themselves, and even for experts it takes quite some time to use them and interpret the outcomes. So the idea is to make a tool where the end-users easily can look into the outcomes.”  

Building an accessible end-user tool

The end-user tool from the ToPDAd project will be an internet-based tool where regional decision makers, governments or businesses will be able to look into the effects of climate change on various economic sectors and the costs and benefits of various adaptation measures. "The project will say a lot about regions and countries, but not about the very local level probably. Still of course you want to make it as accessible as possible so that end users can use the tool and play with it. The end-user tool will enable decision-makers to interact and use ToPDAd knowledge, compare different scenarios and policy options and learn from that.” Rob adds that the team would like to use this whole project to continue research into the economics of climate-change adaptation.

Potential end users have been involved through a stakeholder workshop and through interviews that were conducted last year. "We are analysing who are the most important user groups. My idea is that, due to the resolution of ToPDad results, the main interest will come from policy makers and business at the EU, national and regional level, and that outcomes will be less relevant for local decision makers. ” Rob highlights that these are his assumptions and that the team is working to get a better picture. He further explains that the team is working on mapping and balancing the needs of the end users with what the ToPDAd project can deliver. Using this information, they will then start building a prototype for the end-user tool.  

Awareness through cost–benefit analyses

Rob thinks that the most interesting aspect of ToPDAd is to improve the awareness of the economic and the cost–benefit aspect of adaptation. "Being aware of the consequences of non-adaptation versus adaptation is really important. Or, what if you adapt but you do it in the wrong way? If you can teach people what the consequences are, especially from the cost–benefit aspect, it will create a lot of awareness. Things really get tangible when you feel it in your wallet. That might wake people up”, he says. "I think that is [the] core of what we are working on. For our part the most important is to make this more clear and convincing for people.”

Personally, Rob never thought about whether he had experienced the effects of climate change or actually adapted to them. "I think it never really affected my situation so far but for example the extreme weather and the floods happening in England or in Copenhagen the past few years can happen in my area also.”  

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Logos of the participants of ToPDAd
Participants of ToPDAd: Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT, The Chancellor Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge, CICERO Senter Klimaforskning Stiftelse, Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek, Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Gesellschaft für Wirtschaftlich Strukturforschung MBH, University of East Anglia, Transport & Mobility Lueven NV, Ilmatieteen Laitos, Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft MBH
7th Framework Programme (FP7)