During the last decade substantial progress has been made in climate science and knowledge delivery. It is now time to consolidate the insights gained. Decision makers in developing and developed countries can benefit from climate knowledge through improved risk management practices or better-targeted policies. However, this can only be achieved if the broad disciplines of climate sciences, agricultural systems sciences and socio-economic sciences adopt a common, integrated framework for research and delivery.

We demonstrated how knowledge of CV and CC can lead to better decisions in agriculture, regardless of geographical location and socio-economic conditions. Amongst the most important tools are probabilistic climate forecasting capabilities and agricultural simulation models that facilitate objective evaluation of alternative decisions at the farm, marketing or policy level. An interdisciplinary systems approach to research and development will assist in capturing our ever-increasing understanding of the physical and biological systems components. This must be complemented by participatory communication methods that ensure the on-going connections between decision makers, advisors and scientists. Examples of decisions aided by simulation output ranges from tactical crop management options, to commodity marketing and to policy decisions about future land use. Any scientific breakthroughs in climate forecasting capabilities are much more likely to have an immediate and positive impact if they are conducted and delivered within such a framework.

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